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Margaret Truman

portrait painted by Greta Kempton
Born February 17, 1924(1924-02-17)
Independence, Missouri
Died January 29, 2008 (aged 83)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation Writer
Genres Mystery fiction
Spouse(s) Clifton Daniel
Children Clifton, William (d. 2000), Harrison, Thomas
Official website

Mary Margaret Truman Daniel (February 17, 1924 — January 29, 2008), widely known throughout her life as Margaret Truman, was an American singer who later became a successful writer. She was the only child of Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, and Bess Truman.


Early life

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

In 1944 Truman christened the battleship USS Missouri, which was named after her home state (when the ship was recommissioned in 1986 she was a featured speaker at the ceremony).


Truman pursued a singing career in the late 1940s. After graduating from George Washington University and receiving some operatic vocal training, she debuted with the radio broadcast of a vocal recital in March 1947. After a performance in December 1950, Washington Post music critic Paul Hume wrote she was “extremely attractive on the stage... [but] cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time.” Her father, then President, wrote to Hume, "I have never met you, but if I do you'll need a new nose and plenty of beefsteak and perhaps a supporter below." Years later she recalled, “I thought it was funny. Sold tickets.”[1] Truman's singing career was widely publicized during her father's presidency and the February 26, 1951 cover of Time Magazine carried her image with a single musical note floating by her head. She performed on stage, radio, and television until the mid 1950s.

Truman's place in pop culture was confirmed by her appearances as a guest panelist on the popular game show What's My Line?, replacing Dorothy Kilgallen several times, and also appearing as a mystery guest. In 1957, she guest starred on an episode of NBC's variety show, The Gisele MacKenzie Show, joining Gisele MacKenzie in a duet of "I Only Have Eyes For You" playing the piano together in a version of "Sisters".[2]



Truman wrote several non-fiction and fiction books. Harry S. Truman (1972) was a critically acclaimed, full length biography of her father drawn from extensive resources at the Truman Library, published shortly before his death. Bess W. Truman (1986) was a detailed personal biography of her mother. She also wrote books on White House first ladies and pets, the history of the White House and its inhabitants, along with a critically successful series of fictional murder mysteries set in various locations in and around Washington, D.C. There have been claims these murder mysteries were ghost-written, perhaps by Donald Bain, but he denies this.[3][4] She continued to write and publish regularly into her eighties.

Later life

In later life Truman-Daniel resided in her Park Avenue home in Manhattan and served on the Board of Directors for the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum along with the Board of Governors for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

Death and burial

Margaret Truman-Daniel died in Chicago on January 29, 2008, following a brief illness during which she was on a respirator and living in an assisted care facility.[5] On February 23, following a private memorial service, her ashes and those of her husband E. Clifton Daniel were interred in her parents' burial plot at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.[6]

Personal life

Truman married New York Times reporter (and later editor) Clifton Daniel (1912 - 2000) on April 21, 1956 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Independence, Missouri. They had four sons:

  • Clifton Truman Daniel (born 1957) - has written and spoken publicly about his grandfather and his experiences as the grandchild of a president.
  • William Wallace Daniel (1959 - 2000) - who died in a New York City taxi cab collision
  • Harrison Gates Daniel (born 1963)
  • Thomas Washington Daniel (born 1966).



Book Year Notes
Murder in the White House
(Filmed as Murder at 1600 starring Wesley Snipes)
1980 ISBN 0-87795-245-0
Murder on Capitol Hill 1981 ISBN 0-87795-312-0
Murder in the Supreme Court 1982 ISBN 0-87795-384-8
Murder in the Smithsonian 1983 ISBN 0-87795-475-5
Murder on Embassy Row 1984 ISBN 0-87795-594-8
Murder at the FBI 1985 ISBN 0-87795-680-4
Murder in Georgetown 1986 ISBN 0-87795-797-5
Murder in the CIA 1987 ISBN 0-394-55795-6
Murder at the Kennedy Center 1989 ISBN 0-394-57602-0
Murder at the National Cathedral 1990 ISBN 0-394-57603-9
Murder at the Pentagon 1992 ISBN 0-394-57604-7
Murder on the Potomac 1994 ISBN 0-679-43309-0
Murder at the National Gallery 1996 ISBN 0-679-43530-1
Murder in the House 1997 ISBN 0-679-43528-X
Murder at the Watergate 1998 ISBN 0-679-43535-2
Murder at the Library of Congress 1999 ISBN 0-375-50068-5
Murder in Foggy Bottom 2000 ISBN 0-375-50069-3
Murder in Havana 2001 ISBN 0-375-50070-7
Murder at Ford's Theatre 2002 ISBN 0-345-44489-2
Murder at Union Station 2004 ISBN 0-345-44490-6
Murder at the Washington Tribune 2005 ISBN 0-345-47819-3
Murder at the Opera 2006 ISBN 0-345-47821-5
Murder on K Street 2007 ISBN 0-345-49886-0
Murder inside the Beltway 2008 ISBN 0-345-49888-7


Book Year Notes
Souvenir, Margaret Truman's Own Story 1956 OCLC 629282
White House Pets 1969 OCLC 70279
Harry S. Truman 1973 ISBN 0-688-00005-3
Women of Courage 1976 ISBN 0-688-03038-6
Letters From Father: The Truman Family's Personal Correspondence 1981 ISBN 0-87795-313-9
Bess W. Truman 1986 ISBN 0-02-529470-9
Where The Buck Stops: The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman 1989 ISBN 0-446-51494-2
First Ladies 1995 ISBN 0-679-43439-9
The President's House: 1800 to the Present 2004 ISBN 0-345-47248-9


  1. ^ Staff writer, Truman's only child dies at 83, MSNBC, January 29, 2008, retrieved January 29, 2008
  2. ^ "’’The Giselle MacKenzie Show’’".;more. Retrieved May 15, 2009.  
  3. ^ Breen, Jon, The Ghost of Miss Truman, Weekly Standard, November 18, 2002, retrieved January 29, 2008
  4. ^ Adrian, Jack, Obituary: William Harrington, The Independent, London, 21 November 2000, retrieved 31 January 2008. After his apparent suicide, a self-written obituary by author William Harrington was found in which he claimed Harold Robbins and Margaret Truman were his "clients". Harrington's literary agent (who was also Truman's agent) denied any collaboration with Truman, while somewhat obliquely acknowledging Harrington had "worked on" four books by Robbins. Harrington has been "squarely" credited by at least one verifiable source with ghostwriting all the books published by the offspring of another US president, Elliott Roosevelt.
  5. ^ Truman's Daughter Dies at 83. Associated Press. 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  6. ^ Meyer, Gene, The ashes of Margaret Truman Daniel are put to rest in her roots, Kansas City Star, 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-03-13.

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