Richard Nixon: Makeup, Elections, and Death

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. SEE BELOW
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

Cited Sources
  1. Hewitt, D. Tell Me a Story: 50 Years and 60 Minutes. New York: Public Affairs, 2001.

    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.

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