Baldrige, Letitia (Katherine) 1927(?)-

views updated

BALDRIGE, Letitia (Katherine) 1927(?)-

PERSONAL: Born c. 1927, in Miami Beach, FL; (some sources say Omaha, NE); daughter of H. Malcolm and Regina (Connell) Baldrige; married Robert Hollensteiner (a real estate executive), December 27, 1963; children: Clare Louise, Malcolm Baldrige. Education: Vassar College, B.A.; University of Geneva, graduate study. Politics: Republican. Religion: Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Office—151 East 80th St., New York, NY. 10021.

CAREER: Social secretary to Ambassador and Mrs. David Bruce, American Embassy, Paris, France, 1948-51; intelligence officer in Washington, DC, 1951-53; social secretary to Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce, American Embassy, Rome, Italy, 1953-56; Tiffany & Co., New York, NY, public relations director, 1956-60; social secretary to Mrs. John F. Kennedy, the White House, Washington, DC, 1961-63; Letitia Baldrige Enterprises (public relations), Chicago, IL, president, 1964-69; director of consumer affairs, Burlington Industries, 1969-71; Letitia Baldrige Enterprises, Inc., New York, NY, president, 1971—. Lecturer and television hostess.

MEMBER: American Institute of Interior Designers (public relations associate member), Institute of International Education (director), National Home Fashions League of New York, Fashion Group of New York, Women's Forum, Woodrow Wilson National Foundation (director), Committee of Two Hundred.

WRITINGS:

Roman Candle, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1956.

Tiffany Table Settings, Crowell (New York, NY), 1959.

Of Diamonds and Diplomats: An Autobiography of a Happy Life, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1968.

Home, Viking (New York, NY), 1970.

Juggling: The Art of Balancing Marriage, Motherhood, and Career, Viking (New York, NY), 1976.

(Reviser) Amy Vanderbilt's Book of Etiquette, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978, published as Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette, Bantam (New York, NY), 1981.

The Entertainers, Bantam (New York, NY), 1981.

Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to Executive Manners, edited by Sandi Gelles-Cole, Rawson Associates (New York, NY), 1985, revised edition published as Letitia Baldrige's New Complete Guide to Executive Manners, Scribner (New York, NY), 1993.

Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to a Great Social Life, illustrations by Raquel Jaramillo, Rawson Associates (New York, NY), 1987.

Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the New Manners for the '90s, illustrations by Denise Cavalieri Fike, Rawson Associates (New York, NY), 1990.

Public Affairs, Private Relations (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.

Letitia Baldrige's More Than Manners! Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts, Rawson Associates (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Rene Verdon) In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.

Legendary Brides: From the Most Romantic Weddings Ever, Inspired Ideas for Today's Brides, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 2000.

A Lady, First: My Life in the Kennedy White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Class Acts: How Good Manners Create Good Relationships and Good Relationships Create Good Manners, Evans (New York, NY), 2003.

Letitia Baldrige's New Manners for New Times, Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.

Author of syndicated column in the Los Angeles Times. Contributor to magazines and newspapers.

SIDELIGHTS: Letitia Baldrige, who was the White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration, writes in her book Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette that good manners are "nothing more than a combination of kindness and efficiency." In revising Vanderbilt's classic work on the social graces, Baldrige, according to Clarence Petersen in the Chicago Tribune Book World, addresses many forms of modern behavior, including "how to fight teen drug problems (talk openly and honestly) and . . . 16 ways to combat loneliness if you're suddenly single."

Since revising Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette, Baldrige has penned several more books of her own. These titles include volumes about manners, such as Letitia Baldrige's New Complete Guide to Executive Manners and Letitia Baldrige's More Than Manners! Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts. Jo Lynn Jennings, reviewing an early edition of the former in the Journal of Small Business Management, praised it as "the most comprehensive book yet written on social behavior in American business." Of the latter, a Booklist critic concluded that "Baldrige has covered every conceivable social situation" involving children.

Baldrige collaborated with Rene Verdon, the chef who served with her at the Kennedy White House, to produce the 1998 volume In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House. Verdon provided the recipes and Baldrige provided the reminiscences about the fabulous nights of entertainment at the presidential residence during the Kennedy administration. Raul Nino, discussing In the Kennedy Style in Booklist, reported that it is "engaging" and "written in an informal style." Baldrige reveals more about her White House service, as well as her employment by U.S. ambassadors to France and Italy, in her second volume of autobiography, A Lady, First: My Life in the Kennedy White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome. She also recounts how, as a well-qualified graduate of Vassar, she faced a great deal of sexual discrimination while seeking a career during the late 1940s. As Jill Ortner noted in a Library Journal review, Baldrige "is detailed but not bitter when describing the real lack of opportunity for women with her credentials." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly critic concluded that "Baldrige is an exemplary role model for women because she opened doors by refusing to accept that they were closed."

Not surprisingly, when Baldrige turned to writing about weddings in 2000's Legendary Brides, she included the First Lady she had served among the subjects she chose. She also provides details about the weddings of Princess Grace of Monaco, and of Great Britain's nineteenth-century ruler Queen Victoria. In addition to her many works of nonfiction about manners, Baldrige is also the author of a novel, Public Affairs, Private Relations. The book centers on a widowed heroine, described as a "Boston blueblood" by Sybil Steinberg of Publishers Weekly, who falls in love with a wealthy Jewish entrepreneur. Steinberg remarked that Baldrige's "prose is literate and her story timely."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Baldrige, Letitia, Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette, Bantam (New York, NY), 1981.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 1997, Patricia Hassler, review of Letitia Baldrige's More Than Manners! Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts, p. 1100; May 15, 1998, Raul Nino, review of In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House, p. 1579.

Chicago Tribune Book World, April 26, 1981.

Journal of Small Business Management, April, 1986, Jo Lynn Jennings, review of Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to Executive Manners, p. 69.

Library Journal, September 15, 2001, Jill Ortner, review of A Lady First: My Life in the Kennedy White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome, p. 87.

Management Review, April, 1992, Barbara Ettorre, "Letitia Baldrige: Arbiter of Business Manners and Mores," pp. 50-54.

New York Times Book Review, March 24, 2002, Margaret Van Dagens, review of A Lady, First, p. 21.

People, May 18, 1998, Sandra McElwaine and Alec Foege, "The Age of Jackie," p. 163.

Publishers Weekly, September 7, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Public Affairs, Private Relations, pp. 76-77; August 27, 2001, review of A Lady, First, p. 64.

ONLINE

Letitia Baldrige Home Page,http://www.letitia.com/ (July 28, 2002).*

About this article

Baldrige, Letitia (Katherine) 1927(?)-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article