Socialite Virginia Warren Daly, 80, Dies

Virginia Warren, daughter of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, tries on a hat that was a gift from Lucille Ball.
Virginia Warren, daughter of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, tries on a hat that was a gift from Lucille Ball. (1954 Photo By Charles Del Vecchio -- The Washington Post)
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By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In the 1950s and 1960s, if Virginia Warren Daly came to your party, you had it made.

Effervescent, beautiful and popular with the opposite sex, the daughter of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren was a staple of the society columns in Washington and New York, both before and after she married news broadcaster John Charles Daly, moderator of the long-running television quiz show "What's My Line?"

Mrs. Daly, 80, who died of cancer Feb. 19 at her Washington home, was at all the best parties of the era. She and her husband attended Truman Capote's lavish Black and White Ball in New York in 1966.

Among the 510 artists, scientists, diplomats, entertainers and tycoons, "There was no main table, but one was exceedingly popular," society reporter Charlotte Curtis wrote in the New York Times. "It was where Mr. [Frank] Sinatra, [actress] Claudette Colbert, John Daly and his wife, the former Virginia Warren, and Mrs. Leland Hayward, wife of the producer, sat."

Renowned Washington hostess Perle Mesta described Mrs. Daly in 1956 as "a charming and lovely American girl" in an effort to arrange a romance for her with Prince Napoleon Murat, a descendant of the French emperor.

Her attendance and attire was meticulously recorded at all the gala events of the day, along with that of Austine "Bootsie" Hearst, wife of media owner William Randolph Hearst Jr.; Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-La.); and the ambassadorial couple of Robin and Angier Biddle Duke.

Rarely quoted in the news media, she was a woman who enjoyed traveling the world with hotel magnate Conrad "Connie" Hilton, her daughter said.

Virginia Warren was born in Oakland, Calif., and grew up in a political household. She was a youngster when her father was elected attorney general of California and then governor three times.

At 20, she campaigned for her father in 1948, when he was the Republican vice presidential nominee on the losing ticket with Thomas Dewey. An Associated Press report that year said she stole the show from her father at the University of Wisconsin campus, where students hooted and whistled at the photogenic young woman and demanded her autograph.

She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950. In 1958, as she was leaving a Washington Senators game in the company of New York Times reporter Bill Lawrence, she fell in a parking lot staircase and broke her ankle. She sued the lot owners and operators for $50,000 and in 1962 was awarded $12,000, a case that went all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

She married Daly in 1960 in San Francisco, and the couple lived in New York before moving to Chevy Chase and later Washington.

Mrs. Daly never worked outside the home, her daughter said, but she had been secretary of the Supreme Court Historical Society and volunteered at Georgetown University Hospital's cancer ward. She was a member of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Washington.

Her husband died in 1991.

Survivors include three children, John Warren Daly of Los Angeles, John Earl Jameson Daly of St. Helena, Calif., and Nina Elisabeth Daly of Los Angeles; a sister; and two brothers.

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