First Lady Mamie Eisenhower

As the hot topic today is former First Lady Michelle Obama's official portrait, we would like to present our favorite First Lady portrait. As you might guess, it is from the fifties.

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in Inaugural Gown
First Lady Mamie Eisenhower Inaugural Gown Portrait
Painted in 1953 by Thomas Stevens
Gown Designed by Nettie Rosenstein
Mamie Eisenhower was the First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961. Known for her bangs and bob hairstyle, outgoing personality, and love for pretty dresses, Mrs. Eisenhower's pride and enjoyment in her role as First Lady endeared her to the public.

For the 34th Presidential Inaugural Ball, Mrs. Eisenhower wore a pink peau de soie gown embroidered with 2000 rhinestones. The gown was designed by the highly regarded, American designer, Nettie Rosenstein.

Mamie was particularly fond of pink. So much so that the term "Mamie" or "First Lady" pink was coined and  launched a nationwide infatuation with pink clothing and housewares.

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower Inaugural Ball Gown
Designed by Nettie Rosenstein
National Museum of American History
Purse Carried by Mamie Eisenhower at Inaugural Ball
Judith Leiber Design
National Museum of American History

Delman Shoes Worn by Mamie Eisenhower to Inaugural Ball
National Museum of American History

As a former military wife, the new First Lady was well suited for her entertaining responsibilities. She was soon dubbed, "Hostess in Chief."

Mrs. Eisenhower's values reflected those of  most middle class American women of the 1950's. She took pride in her appearance, was focused on home and family, and was a gracious hostess for her husband's many White House functions.

Mamie Eisenhower was an early proponent of civil rights. She approved the unprecedented invitation of African-American opera singer Marian Anderson to sing at the inaugural ceremonies and insisted her African-American staff be allowed to stay and attend all ceremonies in the still segregated Washington.

Although Mrs. Eisenhower came from a wealthy family, she was conscientious about costs and was even known to clip coupons for the White House staff.

Her recipe for "Mamie's Million Dollar Fudge" became a fifties' housewife holiday mainstay. It has been included in the Eisenhower National Archives.

Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge 

4 1/2 cups sugar 
pinch of salt 
2 tablespoons butter 
1 tall can evaporated milk 
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits 
12 ounces German-sweet chocolate 
1 pint marshmallow cream 
2 cups nutmeats 

Boil the sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk together for six minutes. Put chocolate bits and German chocolate, marshmallow cream and nutmeats in a bowl. Pour the boiling syrup over the ingredients. Beat until chocolate is all melted, then pour in pan. Let stand a few hours before cutting. Remember it is better the second day. Store in tin box.

Who wouldn't love to receive this as a Valentine's Day gift?

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