The Presidency

Inside Camelot: The untold story of JFK's valet

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The Presidential Ideas Festival was held May 21-23, 2019.

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March 27, 2019

Nick Drake, Alfred Reaves, David Throup, Barbara Perry

George Thomas was John F. Kennedy’s personal valet, traveling the world at the president’s side. Thomas was with Kennedy nearly every day, helping him dress and undress, assisting with his physical therapy, and maintaining his wardrobe. He even prepared the president’s body for burial after his assassination in 1963. Thomas passed away in 1980 and has gone largely unrecognized...until now. Award-winning British screenwriter and playwright Nick Drake is at work on a play about Kennedy’s 1963 meeting with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Instead of focusing only on those in the highest positions of power, Drake is exploring members of the supporting staff like Thomas.  Several months ago, Drake contacted the Miller Center's Barbara Perry and Alfred Reaves IV to find out more. So they began investigating. Drake, Perry, Reaves, and scholar David Throup will convene here at the Miller Center to discuss Thomas' untold story: Was he President Kennedy’s “Hidden Figure” on civil rights? How did Thomas’ crucial assistance allow Kennedy to overcome his physical challenges? What was his role in Kennedy’s Cold War summits?