Leighton, Frances Spatz 1920(?)-2007

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Leighton, Frances Spatz 1920(?)-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born c. 1920, in OH; died of congestive heart failure, April 6, 2007, in Arlington, VA. Journalist and author. Leighton made a name for herself writing and cowriting biographies and autobiographies of the people who lived behind the scenes in Washington, DC, such as White House Chef: As Told to Frances Spatz Leighton and My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House. Educated at Ohio State University, she left college just weeks before graduation to move to the nation's capital. Here she was a freelance journalist contributing to the American Weekly as a correspondent in the 1950s and early 1960s, editing the Washington edition of This Week Magazine from 1963 to 1969, and contributing to Family Weekly as an editor. She began publishing books in 1957 with White House Chef, the autobiography of Francois Rysavy. Other similar works followed, such as I Was Jacqueline Kennedy's Dressmaker (1962) with Mini Rhea, It Was Fun Working at the White House (1969) and My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House (1978), both with seamstress Lillian Rogers Parks, and Fishbait: The Memoirs of the Congressional Doorkeeper (1977), with William Miller. My Thirty Years was a long-running best seller on the New York Times list and was adapted as a television miniseries in 1979. When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, his wife, Jacqueline, made their staff sign an agreement not to write such behind-the-scenes books. Mary B. Gallagher, Jacqueline Kennedy's personal secretary, nevertheless kept a journal; years later, she entrusted it to Leighton, who published it as My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy (1969). In addition to peeks into Washington life, Leighton also wrote biographies of Hollywood stars and rich and famous personalities, as well as humor and how-to books, such as How to Write and Sell Your First Novel (1986; 3rd edition, 1997). Leighton won an Edgar Award in 1961.



Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2007, p. B11.

Washington Post, April 14, 2007, p. B6.

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Leighton, Frances Spatz 1920(?)-2007

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