Ron Ziegler

Last updated
Ron Ziegler
11th White House Press Secretary
In office
January 20, 1969 August 9, 1974
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by George Christian
Succeeded by Jerald terHorst
Personal details
Ronald Louis Ziegler

(1939-05-12)May 12, 1939
Covington, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedFebruary 10, 2003(2003-02-10) (aged 63)
Coronado, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)Nancy Plessinger (1961–2003)
Children2 daughters
Education Xavier University
University of Southern California (BA)

Ronald Louis Ziegler (May 12, 1939 – February 10, 2003) was the eleventh White House Press Secretary and Assistant to the President during United States President Richard Nixon's administration. [1]

White House Press Secretary the chief spokespersion for the executive branch of the united states government

The White House Press Secretary is a senior White House official whose primary responsibility is to act as spokesperson for the executive branch of the United States government administration, especially with regard to the President, senior executives, and policies.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Richard Nixon 37th president of the United States

Richard Milhous Nixon was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he resigned from office, the only U.S. president to do so. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.


Early life

Ziegler was born to Louis Daniel Ziegler, a production manager, and Ruby (Parsons), in Covington, Kentucky. [1] [2] He was raised religiously in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.[ citation needed ]

Covington, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Covington is a city in Kenton County, Kentucky, United States, located at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers. Cincinnati, Ohio, lies to its north across the Ohio and Newport, Kentucky, to its east across the Licking. Part of the Cincinnati–Northern Kentucky metropolitan area, Covington had a population of 40,640 at the time of the 2010 U.S. census, making it the fifth-most populous city in Kentucky. It is one of its county's two seats, along with Independence.

Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod traditional, confessional Lutheran Christian denomination in the United States

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), often referred to simply as the Missouri Synod, is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination in the United States. With 2.0 million members, it is the second-largest Lutheran body in the U.S., the largest being Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The LCMS was organized in 1847 at a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, as the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, a name which reflected the geographic locations of the founding congregations.

Ziegler attended Concordia Lutheran School and graduated the 8th grade in 1953. He graduated from Dixie Heights High School in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. He first attended college at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He transferred to the University of Southern California in 1958 and graduated in 1961 with a degree in government and politics. [1] While at USC, he was initiated into the Sigma Chi fraternity. He met future Watergate scandal participants Dwight Chapin, Donald Segretti, and Herbert Porter at USC.

Dixie Heights High School is a 5-A high school located at 3010 Dixie Highway in Edgewood, Kentucky, but has a mailing address of Fort Mitchell.

Fort Mitchell, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Fort Mitchell is a home rule-class city in Kenton County, Kentucky, in the United States. The population was 8,207 at the 2010 census.

Xavier University Jesuit university located in Cincinnati, Ohio

Xavier University is a Jesuit university in Cincinnati and Norwood, Ohio. It is the sixth-oldest Catholic and fourth-oldest Jesuit university in the United States. Xavier has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,485 students and graduate enrollment of 2,165. It is primarily an undergraduate, liberal arts institution.


Early work

He worked at Disneyland as a skipper on the popular Adventureland attraction, The Jungle Cruise. He later worked as a press aide on Nixon's unsuccessful California gubernatorial campaign in 1962. [1]

Disneyland American theme park in California owned by The Walt Disney Company

Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on July 17, 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built to completion under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. It was originally the only attraction on the property; its official name was changed to Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the expanding complex in the 1990s.

Adventureland (Disney) themed area in Disney theme parks

Adventureland is one of the "themed lands" at the many Disneyland-style theme parks run by the Walt Disney Company around the world. It is themed to resemble the remote jungles in Africa, Asia, South America, and the South Pacific. "To create a land that would make this dream reality", said Walt Disney, "We pictured ourselves far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa."

Jungle Cruise Boat ride at Disney theme parks

The Jungle Cruise is a river boat attraction located in Adventureland at many Disney Parks worldwide, namely Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland. Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disneyland are the only Magic Kingdom-style Disney parks that do not have the Jungle Cruise in their attraction rosters.

Subsequently, Ziegler worked with H. R. Haldeman, who later served as Nixon's White House Chief of Staff, at the J. Walter Thompson advertising firm. [3]

H. R. Haldeman White House Chief of Staff

Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman was an American political aide and businessman, best known for his service as White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon and his consequent involvement in the Watergate Affair.

White House Chief of Staff American political role, appointed by the President

The White House Chief of Staff position is the successor to the earlier role of the President's private secretary. The role was formalized as the Assistant to the President in 1946 and acquired its current title in 1961. The current official title is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff.

J. Walter Thompson (JWT), incorporated by James Walter Thompson in 1896 and formerly an advertising agency, is currently a marketing communications company. It has been owned by WPP plc since 1987. On the 26 November 2018, it was announced that it will merge with digital agency Wunderman to form ‘Wunderman Thompson’.

Nixon administration

In 1969, when he was just 29, Ziegler became the youngest White House Press Secretary in history. He was also the first Press Secretary to use the White House Press Briefing Room when it was completed in 1970. Historically, White House press secretaries had been recruited from the ranks of individuals with substantial journalistic experience, such as Stephen Early and Pierre Salinger, raising the question of whether Ziegler was qualified for the position he filled within the Nixon Administration. The hiring of Ziegler was seen by many, and later confirmed by Haldeman himself, as a cog in Nixon's plan to undermine the press; Ziegler's ability to execute the chief of staff's directions was impressive, allowing him to hold a senior position throughout the administration. [4]

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Briefing room in the White House

The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room is a small theater in the West Wing of the White House where the White House Press Secretary gives briefings to the news media and the President of the United States sometimes addresses the press and the nation. It is located between the workspace assigned to the White House press corps and the office of the Press Secretary.

Stephen Early American journalist

Stephen Tyree Early was a U.S. journalist and government official. He served as the third White House Press Secretary under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1945 and as the acting Press Secretary under President Harry S. Truman in 1950 after the sudden death of Charles Griffith Ross. Early served as press secretary longer than any other person.

Pierre Salinger American politician and journalist

Pierre Emil George Salinger was an American journalist, author and politician. He had served as the seventh White House Press Secretary for U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Salinger served as a United States Senator in 1964 and as campaign manager for the 1968 Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign.

He was the White House press secretary during the political scandal known as Watergate. In 1972, he dismissed the first report of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel as the discussion of a "third rate burglary attempt", and repeatedly dismissed the reports by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in The Washington Post , but within two years Nixon had resigned under threat of impeachment. Ziegler, for his part, apologized to The Washington Post for having earlier been so dismissive. [5]

During a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention on August 20, 1973, Nixon was photographed angrily pushing Ziegler towards a crowd of reporters. [6] The president was incensed that Ziegler was not doing enough to keep members of the press away as Nixon entered the convention hall. [7]

In 1974 Ziegler became Assistant to the President. Particularly in the period following the resignations of such senior administration officials as Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Ziegler became one of Nixon's closest aides and confidants. During the impeachment process against Richard Nixon, he defended the President until the bitter end, urging Nixon not to resign, but rather fight conviction and removal from office in the Senate. During the unfolding political scandal, Ziegler himself appeared before Congress at least 33 times.[ citation needed ]


Unlike many other former aides after President Nixon's resignation in 1974, Ziegler remained very close to him. Ziegler was on the airplane that Nixon took to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, near San Clemente, California, as Gerald Ford was sworn into office.[ citation needed ]

On November 12, 1999, Ziegler was due to participate by telephone in a television panel discussion that included several former Nixon and Ford aides, including his successor as White House Press Secretary, Jerald terHorst, who had resigned in protest at President Ford's pardon of Nixon. However, Ziegler's feed failed to hook up for the session, which went on without him.

Business activities and achievements

In 1988, Ziegler became president and chief executive of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, living in Alexandria, Virginia. [1] He previously served as President of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators. [8] He was described by leading truck stop advocate William Fay as "a significant factor in expanding the travel plaza and truckstop industry's presence in the nation's capital." Hay further credited Ziegler as having achieved "great strides in membership recruitment and expansion of member services." [9]

Personal life

In 1961 he married Nancy Plessinger, with whom he had two children, Cindy and Laurie.[ citation needed ]

Ziegler moved to Coronado Shores in Coronado, California, where he died of a heart attack in 2003 at the age of 63. [1] [10]

Ziegler appears in the 1976 film All the President's Men as himself in archival news footage. He is portrayed in the 1995 Oliver Stone film Nixon by David Paymer. The West Wing character Toby Ziegler was named after him.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Ron Ziegler, Press Secretary to Nixon, Is Dead at 63". The New York Times . February 11, 2003. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  2. "Ronald L. Ziegler". Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  3. "Ron Ziegler, former Nixon press secretary, dies in Coronado". 10 February 2003. Archived from the original on 26 June 2006.
  4. Liebovich, Louis W. (2003). Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the Press. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press Group.
  5. Graham, Katharine (January 28, 1997). "The Watergate Watershed: A Turning Point for a Nation and a Newspaper". The Washington Post . p. D01. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  6. "Ron Ziegler Recalls Pushing Incident". Nashua Telegraph . Nashua, N.H. United Press International. April 6, 1978. p. 40. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  7. "Ron Ziegler Recalls Pushing Incident". Nashua Telegraph . Nashua, N.H. United Press International. April 6, 1978. p. 40. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  8. "Ronald L. Ziegler". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
  9. Parry, Tim (February 13, 2003). "NATSO Remembers Ziegler". Fleet Owner. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  10. Condon, George E. Jr.; Lewis, Finlay (February 10, 2003). "Ron Ziegler, former Nixon press secretary, dies in Coronado". Retrieved August 9, 2014.
Political offices
Preceded by
George Christian
White House Press Secretary
Succeeded by
Jerald terHorst

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