Thursday, July 12, 2007

Obituary - Lady Bird Johnson, 94

"Company coming up, Lady Bird. Beautify yourself," was a line I heard on a comedy record about Richard Nixon's election as president. The comic was David Frye and the skit involved Dick and Pat Nixon coming to visit the White House late at night while Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson were still the inhabitants. Lyndon called up the stairs to warn her of the Nixons' arrival.

Picture of unknown origin used without permission
The line was meant to poke fun at Lady Bird Johnson's campaign to beautify America through the Highway Beautification Act, primarily designed to work for the removal of billboards along the nation's highway.

The Highway Beautification Act was exactly the sort of campaign a First Lady of that era would undertake.

Lady Bird died yesterday.

PBS produced a documentary about Lady Bird and there is a nice website about it here.

This leaves Betty Ford, possibly the First Lady with the most impact on American culture due to her candid discussions of previously taboo subjects and her public battles with cancer and alcoholism, as the longest living First Lady.

The picture of Lady Bird Johnson is of unknown origin and used without permission

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am The President / Radio Free Nixon
David Frye


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Anonymous said...

Although the might not be the longest lived, it could be argued (easily) that Eleanor Roosevelt was a more meaningful First Lady both as First Lady and after than Betty Ford (who I think is very deserving - I remember her getting a facelift). E. Roosevelt was very involved in both poverty and class issues of the day. She was also a UN representative. Interestingly, her cause of death was tuberculosis. As you note, Lady Bird, as nice and beautified as she may have been, is in the shadow of these two (and others - Abigail Adams, Mrs. Wilson, to name just two more).