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60 minutes Archive: How State Dinners Looked in 1971



Fifteen months after the Trump administration, the White House holds its first state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron. The tradition of hosting foreign heads of state at a formal dinner dates back to 1874, when President Ulysses S. Grant received King David Kalakaua of the Kingdom of Hawai'i

In the following years, leaders have changed, but the pomp and circumstance have remained the same – from the flowers and the food to the guest list and entertainment. In 1971, 60 Minutes took a rare look behind the scenes as President Richard Nixon greeted Italian Prime Minister Emilio Colombo. Correspondent Morley Safer led the audience into the White House kitchen, met the social secretary responsible for planning the event, and spoke to Maître d & # 39; John Ficklin, who was celebrating his 25th anniversary at the White House.

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"One can not help wondering if some of the heads of state would not prefer a little less formality," Safer said. "The European idea of ​​an American party is casual, informal entertainment, and sometimes I wonder why we, no matter who president, make such a show, the answer could be Alice Roosevelt Longworth – that we really wish to be a royal family

Below is the transcript of an abridged version of a play that aired on March 2, 1971. [19659002] Mike Wallace: Morley, you're two months back in the United States and you've been invited to the White House for dinner.

Morley Safer: Yes, it was the state visit of the Italian Prime Minister I wore my white tie and white tail. Actually, the invitation was not for us alone. The President and Mrs. Nixon asked us to take all our viewers with them so they could see what it was like.

Mike Wallace: How was that?

Morley Safer: That's right.

"There is no fashion for a White House party."

His Excellency, Secretary of State and Mrs. Rogers

Not only the high and the mighty, but the simple people are grandly proclaiming the same red carpet

Mrs. David Eisenhower. Miss Tricia Nixon

There is no fashion delay for a White House party. The host, the hostess and the guest of honor are the last to arrive. They enter the large staircase while the guests are waiting in the east room next door.

An easy-to-influence young lady heard, "It's like & gone from the wind & # 39 ;." It's more like "The Student Prince." Alice Roosevelt Longworth said that when she lived in the White House while her father, Teddy Roosevelt, was president, she was known as "Princess Alice." And she says, deep in her heart, America longs for a royal family.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, President of the United States of America and Mrs. Nixon. His Excellency the President

Guests enter the State Dining Room from the East Room's reception desk. Would not you like to overhear this conversation? It's almost certain that Italy is not what Melvin Laird and Henry Kissinger are talking about, familiar faces on state affairs, but on the guest list: Phil Rizzuto, Joe Garagiola, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Mario Procaccino, top right, by John Lindsay for the mayor of New York, the national commander of the Italian-American war veterans, the president of the Order of Italians sons and daughters of America defeated and the Honorable the sons of Italy

So begins a state dinner. Richard Nixon is probably our most traveled president. He is also the best entertaining president we have ever had. Republics and old monarchies have celebrated it in the great halls of Europe. The Élysée in Paris and Buckingham Palace in London. And also by the commissioners. The People's Republics do not save on champagne and caviar when they entertain the President of the United States.

Well, big nations are not unlike your friends and me when it comes to social affairs. And tonight, the Nixons show what they can do for a dinner party in their house. Dinner has just started and we will be back.

The visit started early in the morning with a trumpet blast. On a day described by the President as a Roman Spring, morning ceremonies begin with the arrival of Prime Minister Colombo on the South Lawn of the White House.

It's not all wrinkled and blooming. A state visit discusses real business. A few days earlier, the Foreign Ministry, Egidio Ortona, Italy's ambassador to Washington, asked Minister Rogers to discuss the agenda for talks between the President and the Prime Minister.

Morley Safer: I've worked abroad for many years and done a good job. When you were a guest, you completed your travels, and now I see you as the host. Which role do you prefer?

President Nixon: It's easier to be a guest than a host, of course. If you are the host, you have responsibility – and your wife, of course, has a great responsibility, as you will notice in your program – for all the protocol and entertainment. And these things do not come off so smoothly and with clockwork precision, just by doing them, as we say. Many planning, days and weeks of planning go into a simple process such as the arrival ceremony.

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If you're a guest, then it's all on the other side, and you just go to where the log boss takes you and all you have to do is prepare for the talks If you are a host, you must be prepared for the talks and oversee all the things that are hosted by a guest of honor.

Morley Safer: My wife can get very nervous when planning a dinner party for ten What is Mrs. Nixon planning for a dinner party for a hundred and fifty – a few times a week? Very often.

President Nixon: It's not easy, sometimes I think, when people think of the first woman who lives in the White House, whoever she likes. They think of that huge staff, and it's a great staff, and all the military helpers, and the rest. But when you finally come to that, what will the menu be? What kind of flowers should we have? Which person should talk to which person after dinner? How do we keep the party moving? How do we make people feel that they are really welcome? That requires a touch that only a woman can give.

Morley Safer: Are you trying to help with this?

President Nixon: Well, my advice is often asked, but not very often. 19659010] "Well, Morley, as you know, there is no house like this."

Morley Safer: Henry Haller, you're the boss of the White House. Will the president ever come here or are you the president of the kitchen?

Henry Haller: I am not the president of the kitchen because there is only one president. I'm just the boss here.

Morley Safer: At a dinner like tonight, a national dinner, who decides on the menu?

Henry Haller: I make a menu and send the menu to the social secretary and the social secretary, Mrs. Winchester, picks up the menu with the First Lady, and sometimes we have some changes, but very rarely.

While the salmon and steaks and asparagus are waiting at the parade, the Marine Corps Orchestra is playing for early arrivals. Downstairs in the White House's own florist's shop, the White House florists give the final touches to the flower decoration of the State Dinning Room, where the White House maitre controls the tables at the last minute. John Ficklin celebrates his 25th anniversary at the White House today. Meanwhile, the menus have arrived from the government printing house.

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<p>  Morley Safer: In the service of six presidents, one needs to serve very, very different men with different habits, customs, and tastes? Mr. Nixon is different from everyone else? </p>
<p>  John Ficklin: Well, one thing is different – the old custom in the White House was to serve the President and the King of the Guest first, and President Nixon changed that to serve – Mrs. Nixon and the Lady of the Noble Guest, before giving the President and serve the King or Prime Minister, whoever it may be. </p><div><script async src=

The guests arrive, each lady is led into the Ostraum on the arm of a social worker, a young military officer stationed in the District of Columbia, and her husband one or two two letters has left behind. Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…39&Itemid=32 A social assistant makes sure that an unattached guest has someone to dance with or someone to share a glass of champagne with It is a way to meet the very best people. In the previous administration, one of the adjutants, a naval lieutenant named Chuck Robb, married the boss's daughter.

Morley Safer: Ms. Winchester, what does it take to be in a house like this Social Secretary? [196592002] Lucy Winchester: Well, Morley, as you know, there is no house like this. That is a difficult question. Here we depend on the leadership of the First Family. The President and Mrs. Nixon set the ground rules for the entertainment here and we simply fulfill their wishes.

Morley Safer: Well, how would you describe the tone you set in the White House?

Lucy Winchester: It depends on what the event is, what kind of tone we are trying to establish. It could be a very gay evening as we had it for Duke Ellington's birthday. It may be a – a state occasion, as this is tonight.

Morley Safer: You are an old hand. Are you ever nervous about an event like dinner?

Lucy Winchester: We all get nervous before any event here in the White House because every little mistake we could see is put under the microscope of the world and blown up. And everyone will consider it a big problem, while if it was something in your own house, it would just come over.

Morley Safer: Everything seems to run like magic, beautifully oiled and smooth. Is it – is it as easy as it looks?

Lucy Winchester: It's not easy. You were here, you watched us put the rabbit in the hat. Guests will see the hare come out and they will not know how he got there.

Between the Vacherin à la Roma and the coffee, the US Army walks through the glittering hall. It is an unforgettable night. People will appreciate the invitation and the menu. One night to be dazzled by the flash of sequins. A Cinderella night for many ladies. Climes, crystal and linen are thrust in the head at their next dinner party – and perhaps imitated –

President Nixon: Because of our affection for the country he represents, for the people and the tradition he represents, and also because of our respect and his admiration for him as a person and as a world leader, I know that you all want to be with me to raise your glasses with the Prime Minister of Italy. The Prime Minister

Morley Safer: You can not help but wonder if some of the heads of state would not prefer a little less formality. You know, the European idea of ​​an American party is a casual, informal conversation, and they sometimes wonder why, no matter who the president is, we always have such a show. The answer could be Alice Roosevelt Longworth, that we really wish we had a royal family.


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