Social secretary in Kennedy’s White House
By JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press November 5, 2012 11:02PM
FILE - This April 1987 black-and-white file photo shows Letitia Baldrige in New York City. Baldrige, the White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration who came to be regarded as an authority on etiquette, has died, she was 86. (AP Photo, File)
Updated: December 7, 2012 6:08AM
WASHINGTON — Letitia Baldrige, the White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration who came to be regarded as an authority on etiquette, has died.
Ms. Baldrige, 86, died Oct. 29 in Bethesda, Md., her friend Mary M. Mitchell confirmed Thursday.
At the White House, Ms. Baldrige also served as chief of staff for first lady Jacqueline Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. She handled the first lady’s schedule and mail and served as the advance scout on trips. She also was responsible for the guest list and overall coordination of events.
Ms. Baldrige acknowledged that she and her team of aides made mistakes. At the first large party she organized, two days into the administration, she provided ashtrays for the guests and served liquor. Both were unheard of, at least in the presence of reporters, and press called the party “debauched.”
“The president wasn’t happy,” she recalled in a memoir, “A Lady, First.”
But the White House continued to serve liquor, and Kennedy later acknowledged he was wrong to give Ms. Baldrige a hard time.
She was in Miami Beach, Fla., the third of three children. Her father, H. Malcolm Baldrige, a lawyer, served one term as a Republican congressman from Nebraska in the early 1930s. She met the future first lady as a student at Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut, and they both attended Vassar.
She did graduate work at the University of Geneva. She was a social secretary at the American embassy in Paris; an assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Rome, and director of publicity and public relations for Tiffany & Co.
After leaving the White House, she started a marketing and public relations agency and wrote more than 20 books. AP