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Letitia Baldrige, Modern Etiquette Authority, Dies at 86

By Todd Beamon   |   Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 07:00 AM

Letitia Baldrige, who established herself as an authority on etiquette in part through her work as chief of staff for Jacqueline Kennedy, has died. She was 86.
 
Baldrige — described on a 1978 Time magazine cover as the “social arbiter” of “new American manners” — died on Monday in Bethesda, Md., according to The New York Times.
 
Her death was confirmed by Mary M. Mitchell, a longtime friend and collaborator. No cause of death was given.

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Baldrige, building on the legacy of such writers as Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt, brought rules on manners to the workplace. She viewed etiquette as simple courtesy toward others, The Times reports.
 
Baldrige’s career in public relations started at Tiffany & Co. in 1956.
 
Through her parents’ social network in Washington she knew Jacqueline Bouvier, who followed three years behind her at both Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn., and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
 
After Bouvier’s husband, John F. Kennedy, won the presidency in 1960, Baldrige became the first lady’s social secretary and chief of staff.
 
She oversaw the banquets, cultural showcases, and world travels that helped establish the Kennedy presidency as “Camelot” — a modern-day cosmopolitan exposition of fashion, art, and youthful vigor.
 
Baldrige would be invited to the White House many times over several decades to advise incoming first ladies, including Lady Bird Johnson — who was thrust into the role by the assassination of Kennedy in November 1963 — and Nancy Reagan.
 
Her many etiquette books include 1993’s “New Complete Guide to Executive Manners.

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Letitia Baldrige, who established herself as an authority on etiquette in part through her work as chief of staff for Jacqueline Kennedy, has died. She was 86.
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