Margaret Truman

Margaret Truman

Show Count: 2
Series Count: 0
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Born: February 17, 1924
Old Time Radio, Independence, Missouri
Died: January 29, 2008, Chicago, Illinois

Mary Margaret Truman Daniel (February 17, 1924 – January 29, 2008), also known as Margaret Truman or Margaret Daniel, was an American singer who later became the successful author of a series of murder mysteries and a number of works on US First Ladies and First Families, including a biography of her father, President Harry S. Truman. The only child of Harry Truman and First Lady Bess Truman, she was "a witty, hard-working Midwestern girl with singing talent who was neither particularly pretty nor terribly plain."


Born in Independence, Missouri, she was christened Mary Margaret Truman (for her aunt Mary Jane Truman and maternal grandmother Margaret Gates Wallace) but was called Margaret from early childhood.

She attended school in Independence until her father's 1934 election to the U.S. Senate, after which her education was split between schools in Washington, D.C. and Independence. In 1942, she matriculated at George Washington University, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi and earned a B.A. in History in 1946. In June 1944, she christened the battleship USS Missouri at Brooklyn Navy Yard (and spoke again in 1986 at the ship's recommissioning).

Margaret Truman

On April 21, 1956, Truman married New York Times reporter (and later editor) Clifton Daniel in Independence; he died in 2000. They had four sons:

  • Clifton Truman Daniel (born 1957), Director of Public Relations for Harry S Truman College.
  • William Wallace Daniel (May 19, 1959 – September 4, 2000), a psychiatric social worker and researcher at Columbia University.
  • Harrison Gates Daniel (born 1963)
  • Thomas Washington Daniel (born 1966)

In later life, Truman lived in her Park Avenue home. She died on January 29, 2008, in Chicago (to which she was relocating to be nearer her son Clifton). She was said to have been suffering from "a simple infection" and had been breathing with the assistance of a respirator. Her ashes, and those of her husband, were interred in Independence, in her parents' burial plot on the grounds of the Truman Library.


After operatic vocal training, Truman's singing career began with a debut radio recital in March 1947. Reviewers were not always kind, but her father was fiercely protective: when in 1950 Washington Post music critic Paul Hume wrote that Truman was “extremely attractive on the stage... [but] cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time. And still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish,” President Truman wrote to Hume, "Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!" A 1951 Time Magazine cover featured Truman with a single musical note floating by her head. She performed on stage, radio, and television until the mid-1950s.

Truman also performed on the NBC Radio program The Big Show. There she met writer Goodman Ace, who gave her advice and pointers; Ace became a lifelong friend, advising Truman even after The Big Show. She became part of the team of NBC Radio's Weekday show that premiered in 1955, shortly after itsMonitor program made its debut. Paired with Mike Wallace, she presented news and interviews aimed at a female listening audience.

She appeared several times as a panelist (and once as a mystery guest) on the game show What's My Line? and guest-starred more than once on NBC's The Martha Raye Show. In 1957, she sang and played piano on The Gisele MacKenzie Show

Truman's full-length biography of her father, published shortly before his death, was critically acclaimed. She also wrote a personal biography of her mother, histories of the White House and its inhabitants (including first ladies and pets), and a series of murder mysteries set in and around Washington, D.C. (though there have been allegations - which have been denied - that these mysteries were ghostwritten, perhaps by Donald Bain or William Harrington).

Truman published regularly into her eighties. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and the Board of Governors of the Roosevelt Institute.

Source: Wikipedia

Broadcast: 3rd December 1950
Added: Jul 17 2005