Helen Thomas was a renowned journalist, often referred to as “The First Lady of the Press.”
As the former White House Bureau Chief for UPI, Thomas was a trailblazer, breaking through barriers for women reporters while covering every President since John F. Kennedy. She covered 10 presidents over five decades and became well-known to the American public for her hard-hitting questions asked from her front row seat in the press briefing room.
Thomas was the only woman print journalist to travel with President Richard Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip in January, 1972. A past president of the Women’s National Press Club, Thomas was the first woman officer of the National Press Club (1959-60), the first woman officer and president of the White House Correspondents Association (1975-76), and the first woman member and president of the Gridiron Club. The World Almanac cited her as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in America.
Thomas served as White House correspondent for United Press International for 57 years and was later a syndicated columnist for Hearst Newspapers. She was also the author of three books, Thanks for the Memories Mr. President, Front Row at the White House, Watchdogs of Democracy?.
She resigned from UPI in 2000, after the news organization was acquired by New World Communications, the media conglomerate that was run by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church.
Thomas was then hired by the Hearst Corporation as a columnist. She continued to receive accolades for her groundbreaking career, including a lifetime award from the National Newspaper Association in 2002 and a lifetime achievement award from the Washington Press Club Foundation in 2007.
Thomas died July 20, 2013, after a long illness, in the Washington, DC apartment where she had lived for more than six decades.