Margaret Truman, the only child of former President Harry S. Truman who became a concert singer, actress, radio and TV personality and mystery writer, died Jan. 29 in Chicago. She was 83.
Her father’s succession to the presidency in 1945 thrust her into the national spotlight while a college student.
Her singing career attracted the barbs of music critics — even the embarrassment of having her father threaten one reviewer. But she found a fulfilling professional and personal life in New York City where she met her husband, journalist Clifton Daniel, who later became managing editor of The New York Times. They married in 1956.
She published her first book, an autobiography titled “Souvenir,” in 1956. But then she did a book on White House pets in 1969, and later more, one a biography of her father. The idea of doing a mystery called “Murder in the White House” came “out of nowhere,” she said.
That 1980 title was followed by mysteries set in the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian, Embassy Row, the FBI, Georgetown, the CIA, Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral and the Pentagon.
She made her professional singing debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1947 and gave her first Carnegie Hall concert two years later. Critics generally praised her poise but were less impressed with her vocal talent.
She soon turned more to radio and television, where she made regular guest appearances with Jimmy Durante and Milton Berle.
On radio, she was co-host, with Mike Wallace, of a daily talk show on the NBC network and had her own nationally syndicated interview program for eight years. She also worked with Fred Allen and Tallulah Bankhead.
She and Daniel had four sons; he died in February 2000. Son William died in September 2000 when he was hit by a taxi; he was 41.