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30 March 1998 (USA)  »

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Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson ~ "History Thunders Down the Corridors Toward You"
27 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Bob Brown narrates this poignant episode centering upon the life and career of Claudia Alta Taylor, from her 1912 birth, in Karnack, eastern Texas, third child and only daughter of Minnie Pattillo Taylor and Thomas Jefferson Taylor, Sr., Alabama natives relocating to Karnack before their 1900 marriage.

While Minnie champions the Arts and Civil Rights, Thomas earns a livelihood as owner of the General Store, and becomes the wealthiest citizen of Karnack, able to send sons, Thomas, Jr. and Antonio to boarding school, while rearing Claudia by herself.

And when Claudia's nurse, Alice Tittle, comments that the infant is as pretty as a Lady Bird, the name sticks for life whether Claudia enjoys this or not.

But in 1918, when an expectant Minnie Taylor tumbles down a staircase, she miscarries, and the injuries also cost her life, when daughter, Lady Bird, is six and remembers her mother's final pleas.

Minnie's sister, Effie Pattillo, arrives from Alabama to attend to Lady Bird's upbringing, and they vacation together every summer back in Alabama, to help to instill upon the youth the virtues of Nature, plants and natural beauty which becomes a driving force behind Lady Bird's life-long passion for beautification.

1925, Lady Bird and Aunt Effie relocate to Marshall, Texas, for Lady Bird's schooling, graduating high school at 16, then attending Saint Mary's School near Dallas.

1930-34, Attending the University of Texas, in Austin, Lady Bird reports for the Daily Texan Newspaper, and earns her degrees in History and Journalism, along with her Teaching Certificate.

But the Great Depression stifles Lady Bird's career opportunities; yet before leaving Austin, she meets one persistent Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), who immediately proposes and won't take "no" for an answer.

Calm, collective Lady Bird considers the possibilities, as LBJ works as a Congressional Aide in Washington, D.C., but she agrees to marry six weeks later, on November 17, 1934, and head for D.C.

1937, LBJ wins a House of Representatives post, to begin his Congressional career, with Lady Bird an active campaigner and member of Washington society.

1941, the Johnsons purchase a Texas radio station and, soon, television station, which Lady Bird actively manages for many years. After suffering three miscarriages, the Johnsons welcome daughters Lynda Bird, in 1944, and Luci Baines, in 1947.

1952, LBJ becomes Senate Majority Leader, but in 1955 suffers a massive coronary, and Lady Bird stands by to assist with his recovery.

1960, when LBJ becomes Vice-Presidential candidate for John F. Kennedy, the election is very close. JFK cannot win without Texas, and Texas would not vote for JFK without Lady Bird. Thus, she changes the course of history.

As Second Lady, Lady Bird assists with Jackie Kennedy's responsibilities as First Lady, often substituting for personal appearances. But after the tragedy of 1963, Lady Bird reluctantly becomes First Lady, as LBJ is sworn in as President.

1964, Lady Bird convinces LBJ to run for re-election, and she boards a train, "Lady Bird Express," to campaign in southern states, pro-Civil Rights, thus becoming the first First Lady to solo on the campaign trail, also traveling extensively to promote U.S. beautification.

Lady Bird also restructures the position of First Lady, by becoming the first to have a press secretary and personal chief of staff, plus an outside liaison with Congress, lobbying for legislation to promote beautification of the nation's highways.

Daughters, Luci Baines and Lynda Bird, each marries in well-publicized White House wedding ceremonies, and Lady Bird remains active for decades to follow, serving on the University of Texas Board of Regents, the National Wildflower Research Center, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Lady Bird Johnson (Self), Lynda Bird Robb (Daughter), Luci Baines Johnson (Daughter), Cecille Marshall (Friend), Nellie Connally (Friend), Liz Carpenter (Press Secretary), Ann Richards (former Governor of Texas), Hillary Rodham Clinton (U.S. First Lady), George Christian (LBJ Press Secretary), Harry Middleton (Director, LBJ Library), Jack Valenti (LBJ Special Assistant), Robert Dallek (LBJ Biographer: "Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President"), and Dr. Lewis L. Gould (University of Texas), with Jack Perkins (Host), and Bob Brown (Narrator).

Still Photographs include Lady Bird Taylor Johnson, Minnie Pattillo Taylor (Mother), Thomas Jefferson Taylor (Father), Thomas Jefferson Taylor, Jr. (Brother), Antonia Taylor (Brother), Alice Tittle (Nurse), Effie Pattillo (Aunt), and Lyndon Baines Johnson (Husband).

Archive film footage includes Lady Bird Taylor Johnson, Thomas Jefferson Taylor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Luci Baines Johnson, Patrick Nugent, Lynda Bird Robb, Charles S. Robb, Richard M. Nixon, Pat Nixon, and Stewart Udall.

Television Clips include scenes from JFK and LBJ-era news events, as well as Lady Bird's appearances for the Department of Interior, and a "20/20" interview from 1995.

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