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Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor and Lyndon Baines Johnson Marriage Profile

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Photo Courtesy LBJ Library / Photo by Yoichi Okamoto

Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson with their dog Yuki sitting near the Pedernales River on the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, Texas, 9/30/1967.

Photo Courtesy LBJ Library / Photo by Yoichi Okamoto
Even though Lyndon Johnson was considered demanding, harsh, demeaning, and unpredictable, his marriage to the gracious and gentle Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor lasted 38 years. Here is information about their short courtship, quick wedding, the issues in their marriage, and more.

Born:

Lyndon Baines Johnson: August 27, 1908 near Stonewall, Texas.

Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor: December 12, 1912 at Karnack, Texas.

Died

Lyndon Johnson: January 22, 1973 in Johnson City, Texas at the age of 64 of a heart attack.

Lady Bird Johnson: July 11, 2007 at the age of 94 of natural causes. She died at her home in Texas. After a public service, Lady Bird was buried in the family cemetery in Stonewall, Texas.

How Lyndon and Lady Bird Met:

Lyndon said he fell in love with Lady Bird at first sight when they were introduced by a friend, Eugenia Boehringer, on August 1, 1934 while Lyndon was in Austin, Texas on a business trip. After meeting Lady Bird, Lyndon ditched his planned date for the evening and took Eugenia and Lady Bird out for drinks. Lyndon was 26 years old and Lady Bird was 21 years old.

Their first date alone was the next morning for breakfast and Lady Bird was late. After breakfast and a long drive in the country, Lyndon proposed marriage. Lady Bird didn't say yes or no -- she said she wanted to wait a year.

Through conversations both by letters and by telephone, Lyndon convinced her to accept an engagement ring around seven weeks later.

"On November 17, Lyndon said, "We either do it now, or we never will. And if you say good-bye to me, it just proves to me that you don't love me enough to dare to. And I just can't bear to go and keep on wondering if it will ever happen."
Source: Wendy H. Goldberg and Betty Goodwin. Marry Me! Courtships and Proposals of Legendary Couples. pg. 20.
Lady Bird said yes.

Wedding Date and Honeymoon:

After Lady Bird said yes, she and Lyndon drove to San Antonio, Texas and were married the evening of November 17, 1934 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

The marriage license, the minister, and several $2.50 wedding bands from Sears were arranged by a postmaster friend of Lyndon's. Lyndon later gave Lady Bird a ring with three diamond baquettes on each side of a central small diamond.

After the wedding Lyndon and Lady Bird had dinner at St. Anthony's Hotel. Their first night together was at the Plaza Hotel in San Antonio. They left the next day for a honeymoon in Mexico.

Issues in Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson's Marriage:

  • Lyndon was demanding and ordered Lady Bird around. He would embarrass Lady Bird in public by making negative comments about how she dressed.
  • Lyndon was unfaithful throughout their marriage. He was "a womanizer and liked to brag about it."
  • Source: Alice E. Anderson and Hadley V. Baxendale. Behind Every Successful President: The Hidden Power and Influence of America's First Ladies. pg. 145.

Children:

Lyndon and Lady Bird had three miscarriages before their two daughters were born.
  • Lynda Bird Johnson: Born on March 19, 1944. Lynda Bird married Charles S. Robb in 1967 in the East Room of the White House. She and Charles have three daughters.
  • Luci Baines Johnson: Born on June 2, 1947. She was first married to Patrick John Nugent on August 6, 1966 at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. Luci and Patrick had four children. Their marriage was annulled in 1979. Her second marriage is to Ian Turpin, a Canadian financier.

Occupations:

Lyndon Johnson: Lyndon was the 36th President of the United States. He had been in politics most of his life.

Lady Bird Johnson: A business woman, in the early 1940s Lady Bird turned a small inheritance of $17,500 into $9 million in 1969 by investing in the KTBC radio station. She used part of her inheritance from her mother to finance Lyndon's first election. Lady Bird founded the National Wildflower Research Center, promoted the Highway Beautification Act and Head Start.

Residence:

Lyndon and Lady Bird retired in 1969 after his presidency to his Texas ranch along the Pedernales River.

Quotes About the Marriage of Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson:

Jan Russell about Lady Bird's attraction to Lyndon: "... she was crazy about Lyndon Johnson, that she loved his drive, his directness, his ability to take charge. She confided that he had asked her to marry him on their first date. there was something about Johnson that drew him to her."
Source: Jan Jarboe Russell. Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson. pg. 13.

Lyndon after his heart attack in July 1955: "Everybody's disappointed me except Lady Bird. My close friends have disappointed me. But Lady Bird never has. I never turned over in bed that I didn't hear her feet on the floor."
Source: Kati Marton. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History. pg. 145.

Virginia Foster Durr, a friend from the Johnsons' Congressional years: "Lyndon was wild about Bird and depended on her for everything. But you never heard Lyndon say it. Of course, he worked her to death! A lot of her women friends used to get mad at him ... He took her completely for granted, and he expected her to devote every waking hour to him, which she did. I don't know how she lived through it."
Source: Alice E. Anderson and Hadley V. Baxendale. Behind Every Successful President: The Hidden Power and Influence of America's First Ladies. pg. 142.

Lady Bird during Barbara Walters interview about Lyndon's infidelity: "Oh, I think perhaps there was a time or two ... If all those ladies had some good points that I didn't have, I hope I had the good sense to learn a little bit from it. He loved me. I know he only loved me."
Source: Alice E. Anderson and Hadley V. Baxendale. Behind Every Successful President: The Hidden Power and Influence of America's First Ladies. pg. 147.

Lyndon about Lady Bird: "Through our years together I have come to value lady Bird's opinion of me, my virtues and flaws."
Source: Kati Marton. Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History. pg. 155.

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