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Richard Nixon: The gushy, romantic side of 'Tricky Dick' (+video)

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Eighteen years after his death, the correspondence offers a tiny window into a fiercely private side of Nixon that almost no one ever saw and represents a love letter of sorts to fans of the 37th U.S. president, who were infuriated when the National Archives took over the museum and overhauled it to include a detailed chronicle of Watergate.

"These letters are fabulous. It's a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know. President Nixon started out as an idealistic young man ready to conquer the world and with Pat Ryan he knew he could do it. There's a lot of hope, there's a lot of tenderness and it's very poetic," said Olivia Anastasiadis, supervisory museum curator.

"He loved her, he was absolutely enthralled by her and that's all he thought about."

The letters stand in stark contrast to the grim-faced leader forced to resign in 1974, disgraced.

Instead, Nixon comes across as an ardent and persistent suitor in the letters, which date from 1938 to just before the couple's marriage in June 1940.

The two met while auditioning for "The Dark Tower" in the Southern California town of Whittier and dated for two years until Nixon proposed to his sweetheart on the south Orange County cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He later delivered her engagement ring in a small basket overflowing with mayflowers. They were married in a small ceremony on June 21, 1940.

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