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H. R. Haldeman : biography

October 27, 1926 - November 12, 1993

Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman (better known as H. R. Haldeman; October 27, 1926 – November 12, 1993) was an American political aide and businessman, best known for his service as White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon.

Haldeman was born in Los Angeles, attained his Eagle Scout rank and served in the Navy Reserve during World War II. He attended UCLA in the 1940s and later joined the advertising firm of J. Walter Thompson, becoming a successful executive in the company. His work for Nixon began as an advance man on Nixon's 1956 and 1960 campaigns, and Haldeman managed Nixon's 1962 run for Governor of California. When Nixon was elected President in 1968, he chose Haldeman to be his Chief of Staff.

Haldeman gained a stern reputation for expecting top-of-the-line work. He and the President were very close – Haldeman was even dubbed "the President's son-of-a-bitch" – and Nixon relied on him to filter information that came into his office and to see to it that information was properly dispensed. To more easily accomplish this, Haldeman reorganized the White House staff to a "funnel" model still followed in the White House today. Recognized by his distinctive flattop haircut, Haldeman would serve throughout Nixon's first term and into his second, though his service was cut short due to the unfolding Watergate scandal, and his role in it. Resigning in April 1973, Haldeman was later tried on counts of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and was imprisoned for 18 months.

After his release, he rejoined the business world.


On November 12, 1993, after refusing medical treatment in accordance with his Christian Science beliefs, Haldeman died of abdominal cancer, at his home in Santa Barbara, California. His remains were cremated and scattered at a site that has not been revealed. He was survived by his wife of almost 45 years, Jo, and their four children – Susan, Harry (Hank), Peter, and Ann. Upon his death Richard Nixon issued a statement, "I have known Bob Haldeman to be a man of rare intelligence, strength, integrity and courage. He played an indispensable role in turbulent times as our Administration undertook a broad range of initiatives at home and abroad."

Haldeman's White House diaries were released posthumously as The Haldeman Diaries in 1994. The book includes an introduction and afterword by noted historian Stephen E. Ambrose.

Career in the Nixon administration

Nixon and Haldeman first met in the 1950s. Haldeman served as an advance man to Nixon during his 1956 campaign for vice president and then as Chief of Advance Men in Nixon's unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign. Haldeman then served as campaign manager in Nixon's unsuccessful 1962 California gubernatorial campaign. He joined Nixon's successful 1968 presidential campaign underway as Chief of Staff and was credited with presenting a revitalized Nixon to the public, using the experience of his many years in advertising.

Nixon named Haldeman as his first White House Chief of Staff.

When Haldeman's appointment to the White House was announced, Robert Rutland, a close personal friend and eminent presidential scholar, urged him to start keeping a daily diary recording the major events of each day and Haldeman's thoughts on them. Haldeman took this suggestion and started keeping and maintaining a daily diary throughout his entire career in the Nixon White House (January 18, 1969, to April 30, 1973). The full text of the diaries, which were published as The Haldeman Diaries after Haldeman's death, is almost 750,000 words.

He and Ehrlichman were called "the Berlin Wall" by other White House staffers in a play on their German family names and shared penchant for keeping others away from Nixon and serving as his "gatekeepers." They became Nixon's most loyal and trusted aides during his presidency. Both were ruthless in protecting what they regarded as Nixon's best interests. Haldeman once said he was proud to be "Richard Nixon's son of a bitch", as he never shied away from firing staffers in person.

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