H. R. Haldeman

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H. R. Haldeman
4th White House Chief of Staff
In office
1969–1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byWilton Persons
Succeeded byAlexander Haig
Personal details
BornHarry Robbins Haldeman
(1926-10-27)October 27, 1926
Los Angeles,
United States
DiedNovember 12, 1993(1993-11-12) (aged 67)
Santa Barbara, California,
United States
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Joanne Horton
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
ProfessionAdvertising Executive
ReligionChristian Science
 
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H. R. Haldeman
4th White House Chief of Staff
In office
1969–1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byWilton Persons
Succeeded byAlexander Haig
Personal details
BornHarry Robbins Haldeman
(1926-10-27)October 27, 1926
Los Angeles,
United States
DiedNovember 12, 1993(1993-11-12) (aged 67)
Santa Barbara, California,
United States
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Joanne Horton
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
ProfessionAdvertising Executive
ReligionChristian Science

Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman (better known as H. R. Haldeman; October 27, 1926 – November 12, 1993) was an American political aide and businessman, best known for his service as White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon.

Haldeman was born in Los Angeles, attained his Eagle Scout rank and served in the Navy Reserve during World War II. He attended UCLA in the 1940s and later joined the advertising firm of J. Walter Thompson, becoming a successful executive in the company. His work for Nixon began as an advance man on Nixon's 1956 and 1960 campaigns, and Haldeman managed Nixon's 1962 run for Governor of California. When Nixon was elected President in 1968, he chose Haldeman to be his Chief of Staff.

Haldeman gained a stern reputation for expecting top of the line work. He and the President were very close – Haldeman was even dubbed "the President's son-of-a-bitch" – and Nixon relied on him to filter information that came into his office and to see to it that information was properly dispensed. To more easily accomplish this, Haldeman reorganized the White House staff to a "funnel" model still followed in the White House today. Recognized by his distinctive flattop haircut, Haldeman would serve throughout Nixon's first term and into his second, though his service was cut short due to the unfolding Watergate scandal, and his role in it. Resigning in April 1973, Haldeman was later tried on counts of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and was imprisoned for 18 months.

After his release, he rejoined the business world.

Contents

Early life

Haldeman was born in Los Angeles, the son of socially prominent parents. His father, Harry Francis Haldeman, founded and ran a successful heating and air conditioning supply company, and gave time and financial support to local Republican causes.[1] His mother, Katherine (née Robbins), was a longtime volunteer with the Salvation Army and other philanthropic organizations. His grandfather, Harry Marston Haldeman, co-founded the Better American Federation of California, the The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, and the gentleman's club, The Uplifters.[1] Young Haldeman and his siblings Tom and Betsy were raised as Christian Scientists. Known to his peers as a "straight arrow," he sported his trademark flat-top haircut from his high school years, enjoyed discussions of ethics, and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.[2] He attended Harvard School, during which time he met Jo (Joanne) Horton, who was a student at Marlborough School. They married in 1949.

A World War II Naval Reserve veteran, Haldeman attended the University of Redlands, the University of Southern California and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1948, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. At UCLA, he met John Ehrlichman, who would become a close friend and colleague in the Nixon administration. After graduation, he spent 20 years working for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in both Los Angeles and New York City; other employees of this firm during this period included Ronald Ziegler, who went on to serve as White House Press Secretary in the Nixon administration.

Haldeman served as a Regent of the University of California from 1967 to 1968.

Career in the Nixon administration

Nixon and Haldeman first met in the 1950s. Haldeman served as an advance man to Nixon during his 1956 campaign for vice president and then as Chief of Advance Men in Nixon's unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign. Haldeman then served as campaign manager in Nixon's unsuccessful 1962 California gubernatorial campaign. He joined Nixon's successful 1968 presidential campaign underway as Chief of Staff and was credited with presenting a revitalized Nixon to the public, using the experience of his many years in advertising.

Nixon named Haldeman as his first White House Chief of Staff.

When Haldeman's appointment to the White House was announced, Robert Rutland, a close personal friend and eminent presidential scholar, urged him to start keeping a daily diary recording the major events of each day and Haldeman's thoughts on them. Haldeman took this suggestion and started keeping and maintaining a daily diary throughout his entire career in the Nixon White House (January 18, 1969, to April 30, 1973). The full text of the diaries, which were published as The Haldeman Diaries after Haldeman's death, is almost 750,000 words.

He and Ehrlichman were called "the Berlin Wall" by other White House staffers in a play on their German family names and shared penchant for keeping others away from Nixon and serving as his "gatekeepers." They became Nixon's most loyal and trusted aides during his presidency. Both were ruthless[citation needed] in protecting what they regarded as Nixon's best interests. Haldeman once said he was proud to be "Richard Nixon's son of a bitch",[citation needed] as he never shied away from firing staffers in person.

Haldeman with Nixon at the Western White House – La Casa Pacifica, November 21, 1972.

Role in Watergate

Haldeman was one of many key figures in the Watergate scandal. The unexplained 18½-minute gap in Nixon's Oval Office recordings occurred during a discussion that included the President and Haldeman. After damaging testimony from White House Counsel John Dean, Nixon requested the resignations of Haldeman and Ehrlichman in what has been described as a long and emotional meeting at Camp David. Dean was fired and the resignations were announced on April 30, 1973. In a phone conversation shortly after the resignations, Nixon told Haldeman that he loved him like his brother.[3] On the eve of Nixon's resignation, Haldeman asked for a full pardon along with a full pardon of Vietnam War draft dodgers. He argued that pardoning the dodgers would take some of the heat off him. Nixon refused.

On January 1, 1975, Haldeman was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to serve 2½ to 8 years, reduced to 1 to 4 years after appeal. In Lompoc Federal Prison, he worked as a chemist in the sewage treatment facility. After serving 18 months, Haldeman was released on parole, on December 20, 1978.

"The Berlin Wall" of Ehrlichman and Haldeman on April 27, 1973, three days before they would be asked to resign.

Later life

In his post-White House years, he went on to a successful career as a businessman, taking an interest in hotels, development, real estate, and chain restaurants in Florida, among other investments. He was also a successful consultant to several start-up companies.[citation needed]

In 1978, he co-authored The Ends of Power with Joseph Di Mona, in which he took responsibility for fostering the atmosphere in which Watergate flourished, a stark contrast from Ehrlichman, who never forgave Nixon for not pardoning him. Also in the book, Haldeman explained Nixon's statement in the Watergate tapes that Watergate could "open up the whole Bay of Pigs thing". Haldeman said that "Bay of Pigs" was a reference to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Using this information, director Oliver Stone, in his 1995 film Nixon, in which Haldeman was portrayed by James Woods, speculated that the missing 18½ minutes of tape may have contained a discussion concerning a cover-up of the JFK assassination.

Death

On November 12, 1993, after refusing medical treatment in accordance with his Christian Science beliefs, Haldeman died of undisclosed causes, sometimes reported as abdominal cancer, at his home in Santa Barbara, California. His remains were cremated and scattered at a site that has not been revealed. He was survived by his wife of almost 45 years, Jo, and their four children – Susan, Harry (Hank), Peter, and Ann. Upon his death Richard Nixon issued a statement, "I have known Bob Haldeman to be a man of rare intelligence, strength, integrity and courage. He played an indispensable role in turbulent times as our Administration undertook a broad range of initiatives at home and abroad."

Haldeman's White House diaries were released posthumously as The Haldeman Diaries in 1994. The book includes an introduction and afterword by noted historian Stephen E. Ambrose.

See also

References

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
W. Marvin Watson
White House Chief of Staff
Served under: Richard Nixon

1969–1973
Succeeded by
Alexander Haig