All In the Planning
Selecting dishes to serve at this state dinner was trickier than usual, as President and Mrs. Kaunda both had significant dietary restrictions. The final menu featured filet of sole to start and capon as the main course.
For centerpieces, Mrs. Ford borrowed porcelain made by Cybis Studio, America’s oldest existing porcelain arts studio, from Blair House. The sculptures represented major North American Indian tribes of the United States.
The Fords also continued to invite people representing wide and varied backgrounds. Guests at this dinner included recently appointed Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, sportscaster Howard Cosell, choreographer Jerome Robbins, fashion designer Gloria Sachs, and architect Gordon Bunshaft, who designed the Hirshorn Museum.
A Future President Visits the White House, 1949
During his first year as a Congressman Gerald R. Ford was assigned to the House Committee on Public Works. He and the other committee members met with President Truman and toured the White House on April 2, 1949. Afterwards Ford wrote these reflections on the building that would become his residence 25 years later.
Ford’s notes on the White House visit from the Ford Congressional Papers, Committee on Public Works, October 1948-April 1949.
President Truman’s appointment calendar courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
It’s hard to believe, but we’ve made it through all of the state dinners hosted by President and Mrs. Ford. We hoped you’ve enjoyed going behind the scenes at these White House events.
Although we’re saying goodbye to our state dinner focus, don’t worry! We’ll be back soon with even more great items from our collections.
President and Mrs. Ford wave goodbye to Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti as he departs the White House following a state dinner held in his honor on December 6, 1976.
We loved the State Dinner series and we’ll be reblogging those over the next few months. Looking forward to seeing what else our colleagues at fordlibrarymuseum have planned!
Shirley Temple Black (April 23, 1928 - February 10, 2014)
We are sorry to mark the passing of Shirley Temple Black. She started as a child actress at at 3 and in her later life left Hollywood for a life as a diplomat. She was a representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly; Ambassador to Ghana under President Ford, the first female Chief of Protocol, and then Ambassador to Czechoslovakia under George H. W. Bush.
Top: Eleanor Roosevelt and Shirley Temple, 07/1938
Bottom left:: Photograph of Shirley Temple Black Shaking Hands with President Gerald Ford in the Cabinet Room after Being Sworn-in as Chief of Protocol, 07/20/1976
Bottom right: Shirley Temple Black, left, the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia; listens to a reporter’s question following an informal ceremony marking the presentation of 130,000 pounds of donated medical supplies to the Czech government. The supplies are flown to Prague from Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, aboard a U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft, 10/25/1990
(Ed. note: amended list of positions. 2/11/2014)
On the Menu: Suprême of Royal Squab
Chefs in the White House kitchen begin preparing the squab that will be the main course at the state dinner for Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Great Britain.
One of the first steps in planning what to serve at a state dinner involved contacting the State Department to inquire about dietary restrictions and likes or dislikes of the visiting guests. In this case, they were informed Prime Minister Wilson didn’t like oysters.
White House executive chef Henry Haller would prepare sample menus that were sent to the First Lady’s staff. Mrs. Ford approved this menu on January 23, a week before the actual dinner.
Strong Voices, Strong Women
Entertainers Carol Burnett and Helen Reddy serenaded guests with a medley of songs of the Sixties at a state dinner honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel on January 27, 1976.
Then starring in the ninth season of her Emmy-winning variety program “The Carol Burnett Show,” Burnett was also known for her roles in musicals. Reddy, one of country’s leading recording artists, had achieved success on the popular music charts after moving to the United States from Australia in 1966.
They followed the medley with a rendition of Reddy’s hit song “I am Woman” dedicated to Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Rabin.
President Ford hosted a working stag dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau on December 4, 1974.
The event outline illustrates how streamlined the evening would be. All of the guests were high-ranking U.S. and Canadian government officials. Unlike other state dinners spouses were not invited, and there was no after-dinner entertainment.
Did you know that President Ford signed legislation to ensure Veterans Day wouldn’t fall on Monday every year?
Since World War I the United States traditionally commemorated Veterans Day on November 11, which had formerly been recognized as Armistice Day. The “Monday holiday” law passed in 1968 established a uniform holiday schedule for the Federal Government but as a consequence moved the observance of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October.
Although the official Federal holiday was observed on Mondays for several years many people continued to hold commemorations on November 11 as well. In September 1975 President Ford signed into law S.331 officially designating the original date as Veterans Day.
“I believe restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 will help preserve in the hearts and lives of all Americans the spirit of patriotism, the love of country and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good symbolized by this very special day,” President Ford said in his signing statement.
-from the Ford Library
Planning for a second term
Just days before the 1976 election, James E. Conner, Secretary to the Cabinet, wrote this cover letter (page one of two) to President Gerald Ford. The attached papers offered strategies for evading pitfalls traditionally experienced in the transition to a second term. Ford was not reelected, however, and the papers were never delivered—as White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney noted at the bottom.
Memorandum for President Gerald Ford from James E. Connor Regarding a Second Ford Administration, 11/02/1976
Bullet Proof Coat
This beige coat worn by President Gerald R. Ford was designed not only to keep him warm and dry but also to protect his life.
This coat came with a bullet-proof vest liner along with more standard features like the six front buttons, adjustable sleeve cuffs, and pockets accessible from the inside. The zip-up bullet-proof vest is made of Kevlar and is covered with cloth identical in color to the coat. Together both pieces weigh 6 lbs., 15 oz.
A label sewn onto the front of the vest provides cleaning instructions and gives an issue date of October 1975, the month after President Ford survived two assassination attempts during separate trips to California.
-from the Ford Library
President Gerald Ford escaped the first of two assassinations attempts within a month on September 5, 1975, when Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s gun failed to fire during the president’s trip to Sacramento.
King Hussein, President Ford, Queen Alia, and Mrs. Ford pause at the base of the Grand Staircase before proceeding to the East Room to receive their guests.
Having attended White House functions before, President Ford felt that this first state dinner “would also give Betty and me an opportunity to put our personal imprint on White House social occasions.” He observed that during the previous administration after dinner entertainment had been formal and the Nixons usually left just after the show. The Fords wanted their dinners to be “more relaxed” and included after-dinner dancing as part of the evening.
Happy 100th Birthday President Ford!
This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of Gerald R. Ford’s birth on July 14, 2013. Throughout 2013, we are celebrating President Ford’s Centennial at the Ford Presidential Library and Museum and the National Archives. Check out some of the highlights:
- Ford’s life in pictures each Friday
- President Ford and the Space Program — Apollo/Soyuz
- State Dinners with President and Mrs. Ford*
- The Gerald R. Ford Centennial
To get the party started, here’s some birthday photos from earlier festivities for Jerry:
Congressman Ford cuts the cake at the party for his 59th birthday on July 14, 1972. He was in a wheelchair following an operation for his “football” knee; President Ford opens presents at his surprise birthday party on July 14, 1975;
President and Mrs. Ford toast on the occasion of his 63rd birthday during a surprise lunch at the San Souci restaurant on July 14, 1976.
*The latest member of the National Archives family on Tumblr!
(State Dinners with President and Mrs. Ford from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum)
The Beginning of National Black History Month - 1976
What first began as Negro History Week in February 1926 expanded into a month-long celebration in 1976. President Gerald R. Ford issued this message recognizing National Black History Month on February 10, 1976.
-from the Ford Library
President Gerald R. Ford Walking away from the Lincoln Sculpture after Laying a Wreath at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony, 02/12/1975
The cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial was laid on February 12, 1914, Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. A little more than eight years later it was completed and dedicated on May 30, 1922 with Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln attending the ceremony.