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Margaret Truman Daniel Dies at Age 83

Margaret Truman smiles happily in her dressing room after her concert appearance in Constitution Hall in Washington, on Dec. 8, 1950, when she sang before her parents, President and Mrs. Truman, and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who were in the audience. The only child of former President Harry Truman, died Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. She was 83. she died in Chicago following a brief illness, according to a statement from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. (AP Photo/File)
Margaret Truman smiles happily in her dressing room after her concert appearance in Constitution Hall in Washington, on Dec. 8, 1950, when she sang before her parents, President and Mrs. Truman, and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who were in the audience. The only child of former President Harry Truman, died Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. She was 83. she died in Chicago following a brief illness, according to a statement from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. (AP Photo/File) (Hkw - AP)

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By Bart Barnes
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, January 29, 2008; 6:22 PM

Margaret Truman Daniel, 83, President Harry S. Truman's only child, who had a famously short-lived career as a concert singer before emerging late in life as a writer of popular Washington-based mystery novels, died Jan. 29 at an assisted living facility in Chicago.

A spokeswoman for the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., said the family had declined to disclose the cause of death.

Mrs. Daniel, who wrote biographies and a collection of profiles, penned 13 murder mysteries from 1980 to 1996. Her first work in the genre was "Murder in the White House," which became a bestseller and earned her $200,000 for the paperback rights alone. Literary critics offered mixed reviews.

Other novels in her "murder-at" series dealt with homicides on Capitol Hill and at the Kennedy Center, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the CIA, the Smithsonian, Embassy Row, Georgetown, the National Cathedral, the Pentagon, the Potomac River and the National Gallery.

Mrs. Daniel also wrote biographies of her parents, a reminiscence of her years in the White House and profiles of a dozen Americans called "Women of Courage."

She debuted as a singer in 1947 on a national radio program with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She toured the country with a concert program of operatic arias and light classics, and she began appearing regularly on radio and television. In 1949, she signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records.

As a singer, Mrs. Daniel is probably best remembered for her father's angry letter threatening physical violence against a Washington Post music critic who wrote a disparaging review of one of her concerts in 1950.

For seven years she had a radio show, "Authors in the News." But in 1956, after her marriage to E. Clifton Daniel, who became managing editor of the New York Times, she reduced her stage appearances to occasional summer stock performances.

Mary Margaret Truman was born Feb. 17, 1924, in Independence and moved to Washington when her father, a Democrat, was elected to the Senate in 1934.

For the next seven years, the family spent the first half of each year in Washington and the second in Missouri. The young Miss Truman graduated in 1942 from Gunston Hall, a school for girls.

As a young girl, she was a soloist in the choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Independence, where the choir director urged her to get professional voice lessons.

She was a student at George Washington University when her father was sworn in as vice president in January 1945. Less than three months later, on April 12, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, and Harry S. Truman became president.


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