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The 1960s Handbook takes a closer look at the cultural references that appear in each week's episode of Mad Men.
Jacqueline Kennedy's Valentine's Day tour of the newly-restored White House was a major media event in 1962, drawing 56 million viewers and earning the First Lady an honorary Emmy. The one-hour broadcast of A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy aired on all three major networks and was the "first primetime documentary to explicitly court a female audience," according to Professor Michael Curtin of the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Mrs. Kennedy cut a dignified figure as she pointed out objects of interest, including items that belonged to former Presidents. Her thorough restoration efforts stemmed from her disappointment in "that dreary Maison Blanche" -- as she called it -- before she moved in. She wanted to make it "the most perfect house in the United States" as well as a museum that reflected the nation's cultural history. "It just seemed to me such a shame when we came here to find hardly anything of the past in the house," she told her TV audience in her upper-crust accent.
The final product "effectively represents changing attitudes about the public and private roles of American women," Professor Curtin wrote. He noted that the First Lady came across as an authoritatively modern woman with a keen sense of history and an appreciation of the arts, even as she was presented as wife and mother. "In these respects, she might be seen as symbolic of female aspirations to re-enter the public sphere," a portrayal that resonated with female viewers.
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