Philanthropist, Diplomat, Society Figure. While giving away billions, she served as US Chief of Protocol, with the rank of Ambassador, in the early days of Ronald Reagan's administration. Raised in California, she graduated from Stanford University in 1940, and had two brief marriages. In 1951 she married billionaire publishing magnate Walter Annenberg, and joined him as patron of the arts and education. Mrs. Annenberg charmed British society during her husband's time as Ambassador to the Court of St. James in President Nixon's administration. When her "old friend Ronnie" became President in 1981, he appointed her to the only "paying job" she ever held, the $50,112 per year post of Chief of Protocol. She was to prove popular in the Washington diplomatic scene (entertaining at her own expense), but there were problems; she fired some long-time staff members, and a photo of her curtsying to Prince Charles brought critisism (quote of the time: "There was a war over that: we won"). Then, she resented the White House taking over what she felt to have been "her job", making arrangements for the three then-living former Presidents to attend Anwar el-Sadat's funeral in Egypt. Resigning after eleven months on the job, she returned to her work with the Annenberg Foundation, becoming president after Mr. Annenberg's death in 2002. Mrs. Annenberg served as trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was on the boards of the Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Of her numerous awards, she was probably proudest of her title as honorary Commander of the British Empire, conferred by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.
Bio by: Bob Hufford