Margaret Truman Daniel, who was the only child of President Truman and his wife, Bess, and who forged careers as a concert singer, actress...

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Margaret Truman Daniel, who was the only child of President Truman and his wife, Bess, and who forged careers as a concert singer, actress and writer, died Tuesday. She was 83.

A cause of death was not announced. Mrs. Daniel, the widow of former New York Times Managing Editor Clifton Daniel, died in Chicago after a brief illness, her eldest son, Clifton Truman Daniel, said.

A longtime resident of New York, she recently moved to an assisted-living facility in Chicago, where Clifton Daniel lives.

Margaret Truman was a George Washington University student when her father, the vice president, ascended to the presidency upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1945.

Lessons in the perils of unwanted political celebrity were instant.

The first daughter set off a public-relations food fight when she instructed a waiter, “No potatoes, please,” and later said she drank tomato juice while dieting. The Potato Growers Association quickly lodged an official complaint and peppered the White House with protest letters. The Tomato Growers Association countered with an onslaught of supportive letters. Both groups waged a marketing war in the national media, touting the nutrition value of their products.

When she was photographed wearing a scarf, Women’s Wear Daily editorialized that she had damaged the millinery industry, a dispute that quelled only after she wore a hat to another event — which, in turn, set off protests from hairdressers.

Suddenly aware that what she said, what she did and how she looked would make her the most spotlighted White House offspring in history, Margaret Truman muted her comments and made sure her appearance in public was politically correct.

What she would not abandon was her quest — somewhat unusual for a well-to-do young woman of the mid-20th century — for a career.

First came singing.

Although she majored in history, she had taken voice lessons from childhood and was determined to make it as a concert singer. From 1947 until 1954, she sang operatic and classical selections at sold-out concerts across the country, receiving a warm reception from affectionate audiences, but a frigid reaction from critics.

Washington Post critic Paul Hume was famously scolded by President Truman when he wrote of Margaret’s 1949 concert at Washington’s Constitution Hall that “she cannot sing very well,” added that “she is flat a good deal of the time” and concluded that she had no “professional finish.”

Incensed, President Truman sent a note to Hume. It said, in part, “I have just read your lousy review … I have never met you, but if I do, you’ll need a new nose.”

Next came acting.

She had appeared in high-school and college productions and in a few radio programs for children. That limited experience, combined with encouragement from actress Helen Hayes, bankable name recognition and an able agent, won her a professional radio-play debut opposite James Stewart in 1951. She portrayed Stewart’s wife in an NBC adaptation of the 1950 motion-picture comedy “The Jackpot,” starring Stewart and Barbara Hale.

She was under contract to NBC and from 1954 to 1961 co-hosted “Authors in the News” and in 1955-56 co-hosted with Mike Wallace the radio program “Weekday.”

In 1956, her marriage at 32 to Daniel and the subsequent birth of four sons sharply curtailed her acting career.

She settled into the role of wife, mother and New York society matron, a happiness that dimmed when she moved back to Washington in the mid-1970s when her husband became Washington bureau chief for The New York Times.

But another career was gestating, and that was writing. She wrote her first book in self-defense. Knowing an unauthorized biography of her life was planned, she wanted to head it off by relating her own life in her own way. “Souvenir: Margaret Truman’s Own Story” was published in 1956.

That account of her Missouri childhood, life in the White House and as a concert singer was greeted by the New York Herald Tribune book review as “a gracefully written tale of an average American girl drawn by chance into the White House.”

In 1972, she published the best-selling 1972 biography of her father, “Harry S. Truman.” She wrote “Women of Courage” in 1976 about 12 admirable women she selected from Revolutionary War era to modern times and dedicated it to her mother. A decade later, she wrote a rare biography of her mother, “Bess W. Truman.” Mrs. Daniel also edited two volumes of her father’s letters and wrote the 1995 group biography, “First Ladies.”

Her affinity for mystery-novel writing perhaps brought Mrs. Daniel her greatest fame, second only to her stint as first daughter. She came to the genre almost by accident and wrote at least 20 mysteries. While working on a history of children who had lived in the White House, she lost interest. An avid reader of mystery novels, she mentioned to her agent that she had an idea for a murder set in the White House.

The concept of a former resident concocting a murder story in that setting was irresistible. With the agent’s encouragement, “Murder in the White House” was published in 1980.

Critical reaction to the first novel was lukewarm, but readers embraced the book, making it a best-seller, and eagerly anticipated the “Capital Crimes Series” she began churning out at a rate of one a year.

Her father died in 1972. Her husband died in 2000, the year their second son, William, was fatally struck by a car while crossing New York’s Park Avenue.

In addition to Clifton, Mrs. Daniel is survived by two sons, Harrison and Thomas, and five grandchildren.

Material from The New York Times is included in this report.