Inside Camelot: The untold story of JFK's valet

George Thomas and JFK

Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Inside Camelot: The untold story of JFK's valet

Nick Drake, Alfred Reaves, Barbara Perry (moderator), David Throup

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
11:00AM - 12:15PM (EDT)
Event Details

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?

Join us for this fascinating conversation. Register for a spot below.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
11:00AM - 12:15PM (EDT)
The Miller Center
2201 Old Ivy Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Nick Drake

Nick Drake

Nick Drake, born 1961, is a poet, screenwriter and dramatist. He is a graduate of Cambridge University, and lives and works in London.

Current projects include: BIRCH GROVE, a new play for producers Matt Byam Shaw and Ruth Jackson; SERVER, a new play commission for the Young Vic theatre; EARTH SONG, poem/text for a new choral work by Rachel Portman for BBC.

Recent work includes: ALL THE ANGELS, Wanamaker Theatre at the Globe, 2017, text published by Faber. BETWEEN WORLDS, libretto for the opera by Tansy Davies, an ENO/Barbican co-production directed by Deborah Warner at the Barbican Theatre, 2015. CAVE, libretto for a new opera with Tansy Davies, director Lucy Bailey, commissioned and produced by London Sinfonietta and Royal Opera House, at Printworks, London, 2018. MESSAGE FROM THE UNSEEN WORLD (2017), a poem commissioned by United Visual Artists and Future Cities for a permanent public artwork in Paddington Basin dedicated to Alan Turing.

Alfred Reaves IV

Alfred Reaves

Reaves is the faculty coordinator at the Miller Center. Most recently he served in the University of Virginia Office of Sponsored Programs, where he functioned as the administrative assistant to the Assistant Vice President for Research, Director of Grants and Contracts, Director of Operations, Business Manager, Account Create Manager, the professional staff within OSP, and the Research Community. Reaves holds a B.A. in political science (Pre-Law) from James Madison University.

Barbara Perry

Barbara Perry (moderator)

Perry is the Gerald L. Baliles Professor and Director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, where she co-directs the Presidential Oral History Program. She has authored or edited 12 books on presidents, First Ladies, the Kennedy family, the Supreme Court, and civil rights and civil liberties. Professor Perry has conducted more than 100 interviews for the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush Oral History Projects; researched the Bill Clinton Oral History Project interviews, and directed the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project. She served as a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow and has worked for both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.

David Throup

David Throup

Throup read history at Cambridge and politics at the London School of Economics, before spending three years teaching at a Nairobi school. Returning to Cambridge, he completed a Ph.D. on the economic and social background to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya and became a Fellow of Magdalene College. After teaching at the University of Virginia and Northeastern University in Boston, he returned to Britain to teach at Keele University and London University's Institute of Commonwealth Studies, before becoming a British diplomat in the 1990s, serving as Senior Research Officer for Africa. He is an adjunct lecturer in African Studies at Johns Hopkins. Throup is the author of The Economic and Social Origins of Mau MauMulti-Party Politics in Kenya, and has edited 12 volumes of documents from the Foreign Office Confidential Prints on southern Africa.  He is currently completing a biography of Jomo Kenyatta and working on religion and politics in Kenya, exploring the role of Pentecostalism and radical Islam.