Gerri Whittington Photo

Gerri Whittington

Born: Sep 11, 1931

Death: Jan 24, 1993

Nationality: United States

Gerri Whittington

Date of Birth : Sep 11, 1931
Date of Death : Jan 24, 1993

Geraldine "Gerri" Whittington was the personal executive secretary to President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was the first African-American secretary in the White House. Johnson was famous for working long hours and insisting his assistants worked long hours as well. When John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson became president, he requested a new slate of secretaries. He saw Whittington working in a government office, and requested that his "special assistant" Jack Valenti get her home phone number. Johnson called her unannounced one evening, and requested that she come in that night for an interview. According to audiotapes of Johnson's phone calls, Whittington at first thought the call was a joke, but came to believe that it really was the president on the line. She applied for the job and was offered the position. Having a black woman in the White House was very unusual in the early 1960s. Johnson wanted to advertise the fact that he'd hired a black woman, but chose not to call a news conference. Instead, he arranged for Whittington to appear on the television game show "What's My Line?", wherein contestants attempted to guess her profession.

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