A long-overdue political biography of Helen Gahagan Douglas—Broadway star, Congresswoman, Nixon nemesis, and forgotten heroine of A merican liberalism
If Hillary Clinton struggled to crack the glass ceiling in 2008, imagine the challenges that faced Helen Gahagan Douglas. She was a three-term Congresswoman beginning in 1944, and ran for the U .S. Senate against Richard Nixon just three decades after women gained the right to vote. Douglas was also a Broadway star, opera prima donna, friend of FDR, lover of LBJ, and passionate New Dealer. Acclaimed author Sally Denton brings every dimension of this extraordinary woman to life in The Pink Lady, a compelling account of Douglas’s incomparable life as stage star, politician, and public intellectual. A brutal 1950 Senate campaign waged by Republican Congressman Richard Nixon ended Douglas’ career as an elected official—Nixon and his henchmen tagged Douglas “The Pink Lady” and, with the help of the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, made her victim to the same McCarthyist anti-Red hysteria that was sweeping Hollywood. Nixon’s savage campaign was the prototype of right-wing smear tactics, a model studied by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. Over four decades in politics, Douglas was a torchbearer for progressive ideals, supporting legislation for affordable housing, public education, and social security extension; in foreign policy she fought for nuclear disarmament and the creation of Israel. Denton’s rich narrative restores Douglas to her rightful place as a pioneer of American politics.