Health and Medical History of President

Richard Nixon: Makeup, Elections, and Death

Back to President Richard Nixon

1960 debate
It's widely acknowledged that Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election to John Kennedy because of his physical appearance during a television debate with JFK. According to Don Hewett, who produced the televised debate, Nixon looked bad that day on television for several reasons: (1) Nixon had a staphylococcal infection at the time, (2) Nixon "smacked his knee" in the studio and was in pain, (3) After Kennedy declined to have make-up applied, Nixon declined, too, fearing the consequences if it became known that he had accepted make-up when Kennedy had not. To cover his five o'clock shadow, Nixon instead had one of his people smear a product of dubious quality, known as "Shave Stick," on his face 1. BELOW

More...
Hewitt also produced a television special on the day President Kennedy was assassinated. One of Hewitt's guests on the show was Richard Nixon. The make-up man for the show was the same make-up man for the 1960 debate, whose services Nixon had declined.

Before the show, Hewitt said something along the following lines to Nixon: "Do you realize that if Franny had done your make-up for the debate, you would have been President?" To which Nixon wheeled around without a moment's hesitation and replied: "Yes, and now I'd be dead." 1

Resources
Cited Resources
  1. Hewitt, D. Tell Me a Story: 50 Years and 60 Minutes. New York: Public Affairs, 2001.1586480170 Libraries.
    Comment: Actually, I heard this statement in an interview of Hewitt conducted by Terry Gross on the NPR radio program Fresh Air on April 10, 2001. Hewitt was publicizing his new book, so it seems reasonable to conclude that the Nixon story is somewhere in the book. Hewitt is best known as the producer of the 60 Minutes television show.
Other Resources
George Washington · John Adams · Thomas Jefferson · James Madison · James Monroe · John Q. Adams · Andrew Jackson · Martin van Buren · William Harrison · John Tyler · James Polk · Zachary Taylor · Millard Fillmore · Franklin Pierce · James Buchanan · Abraham Lincoln · Andrew Johnson · Ulysses Grant · Rutherford Hayes · James Garfield · Chester Arthur · Grover Cleveland · Benjamin Harrison · William McKinley · Theodore Roosevelt · William Taft · Woodrow Wilson · Warren Harding · Calvin Coolidge · Herbert Hoover · Franklin Roosevelt · Harry Truman · Dwight Eisenhower · John Kennedy · Lyndon Johnson · Richard Nixon · Gerald Ford · James Carter · Ronald Reagan · George Bush · William Clinton · George W. Bush · Barack Obama