5 Things You Didn't Know About Katharine Graham

Katharine Graham helmed The Washington Post from the 1960s through 1991, and under her steady, resolute leadership the paper was able to break huge stories like the Nixon White House's cover-up of the Watergate break-in. For many years she was the only female head of a Fortune 500 company, so let's take a look at five things you might not know about this journalism and business pioneer.

1. She Had a Sad Rise to the Top

Graham's father, Eugene Meyer, bought the Post in 1933 and served as the newspaper's publisher until Harry Truman asked him to become the first head of the World Bank in 1946. Meyer named Katharine's husband, lawyer Philip Graham, as the paper's new publisher.

Graham was a capable publisher, but he had to constantly fight his bipolar disorder. By 1963 his psychological problems had become so severe that he had to seek inpatient treatment. During one stay away from his therapy center, he committed suicide by shooting himself at the family's farmhouse.

Rather than ceding control of the paper, Katharine Graham took over as the de facto new publisher of the Post following her husband's death.

Although it was unheard of for a woman to run such a large enterprise at the time, she attacked her new job with such tenacity that she eventually won over her newsroom and corporate offices. Graham later wrote of her ascent, "What I essentially did was to put one foot in front of the other, shut my eyes and step off the ledge. The surprise was that I landed on my feet."

2. The Black and White Ball Honored Her

In 1966, Truman Capote threw his Black and White Ball, a 500-person masked shindig that brought some of New York's most elite celebrities to the Plaza Hotel in disguise and either black or white garb. The guest of honor? Graham. The party was one of the most famous social events of the Sixties; invitations were so hard to secure that people later said Capote had invited 500 guests and made 15,000 enemies. Graham and Capote spent nearly two hours at the party's door shaking hands and giving kisses to senators, princesses, maharajas, and children of presidents.

Although Graham was the guest of honor, she didn't know many of Capote's famous friends, so the author had to introduce her to much of the guest list. Capote later admitted he threw the ball in part as a way to introduce Graham to New York society. (She even joked later that it was an "odd, overaged and gray coming-out party.") Although they weren't previously tight, Capote and Graham became close friends following the ball. Their relationship later took a turn when Capote revealed details of her private life to the media, though.

3. She Would Get Her Hands Dirty

Graham may have wielded a lot of power as the Post's publisher, but she wasn't hesitant about chipping in where she was needed. In 1974 a Newspaper Guild strike left the Post with less than 20 percent of its normal staff. Graham helped out by answering phones for the circulation and classified desks. In one particularly memorable episode, she took a classified ad for a used Mercedes. After reading the ad back to the seller, he remarked that she must be over-qualified for the job and that answering the phone wasn't her regular work.

After she agreed he asked, "You could be anyone from a secretary to"¦are you Katharine Graham?"

Graham simply replied, "Yes, I am."

4. The White House Couldn't Scare Her

It's safe to say the Nixon White House was no fan of Katharine Graham. In 1971 the Post published the Pentagon Papers, the controversial secret history of the Vietnam War prepared by the Pentagon. A federal court had already blocked the New York Times from publishing the papers, but Graham felt that the story was important "“ it showed that the government hadn't been entirely honest about the situation in Vietnam "“ and didn't threaten our national security.

The Nixon White House pushed hard for the Post to kill the story. It threatened the Washington Post Co.'s television licenses and spooked Graham's lawyers so badly that they advised her not to run the story. But she ignored their counsel.

Nixon may have applied the pressure, but Graham ended up getting the last laugh. She gave her newsroom a free hand to investigate the 1972 burglary at the Watergate Hotel, and Nixon eventually resigned the presidency as the result of the Post's dogged investigation of the break-in and ensuing cover-up.

5. She Was Really Tight With Warren Buffett

In 1973 business guru Warren Buffett bought a large block of Post stock, and he and Graham soon became good buddies. Although Graham was 59 years old and Buffett was a married man, a romance blossomed. Instead of being inconspicuous, the couple was fairly forthcoming about details of their relationship. Buffett spent so much time at Graham's Martha's Vineyard mansion that he kept clothes in the closet, and his wife, Susie, even wrote Graham a letter giving the publisher permission to date her husband.

Buffett eventually found a new love interest, Astrid Menks, in the late 1970s. Although Graham and Buffett's romance eventually fizzled, the pair remained business partners and chums.

If there's someone you'd like to see profiled in a future edition of '5 Things You Didn't Know About...,' leave us a comment. You can read the previous installments here.


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5 Things You Should Know About Robert Todd Lincoln
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Robert Todd Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln's oldest son and the only Lincoln child to survive into adulthood. While he didn't make quite the mark on history that his father did, Robert Lincoln had a pretty interesting life himself. Let's take a look at five things you might not know about him:

1. He Was on Ulysses S. Grant's Personal Staff

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Part of Abraham Lincoln's mystique lies in his humble roots as a self-made man who found education where he could. His eldest son didn't have to go through quite as many trials and tribulations to do some learning, though. Robert left Springfield, Illinois, to attend boarding school at New Hampshire's elite Phillips Exeter Academy when he was a young man, and he later graduated from Harvard during his father's presidency.

After completing his undergrad degree, Robert stuck around Cambridge to go to Harvard Law School, but that arrangement didn't last very long. After studying law for just a few months, Lincoln received a commission as a captain in the army. Lincoln's assignment put him on Ulysses S. Grant's personal staff, so he didn't see much fighting. He did get a nice view of history, though; Lincoln was present as part of Grant's junior staff at Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

After the war ended, Lincoln moved to Chicago with his mother and brother and wrapped up his legal studies.

2. The Booth Family Did Him a Favor

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In 1863 or 1864, young Robert Lincoln was traveling by train from New York to Washington during a break from his studies at Harvard. He hopped off the train during a stop at Jersey City, only to find himself on an extremely crowded platform. To be polite, Lincoln stepped back to wait his turn to walk across the platform, his back pressed to one of the train's cars.

This situation probably seemed harmless enough until the train started moving, which whipped Lincoln around and dropped him into the space between the platform and train, an incredibly dangerous place to be.

Lincoln probably would have been dead meat if a stranger hadn't yanked him out of the hole by his collar. That stranger? None other than Edwin Booth, one of the most celebrated actors of the 19th century and brother of eventual Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln immediately recognized the famous thespian "“ this was sort of like if George Clooney pulled you from a burning car today "“ and thanked him effusively. The actor had no idea whose life he had saved until he received a letter commending him for his bravery in saving the President's son a few months later.

3. He Had a Strange Knack for Being Near Assassinations

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Lee's surrender wasn't the only history Lincoln ended up witnessing, although things got a bit grislier for him after Appomattox. As he arrived back in Washington in April 1865 Lincoln's parents invited him to go see Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater with them. The young officer was so exhausted after his journey that he begged off so he could get a good night's sleep. That night, of course, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln's father, and Robert Todd was with the celebrated president when he passed away the next morning.

By 1881, Lincoln's political lineage and prominence as a lawyer qualified him for a national office, and he became Secretary of War under the newly inaugurated James A. Garfield. That July, Lincoln was scheduled to travel to Elberon, New Jersey, by train with the President, but the trip never took off. Before Lincoln and Garfield's train could leave the station, Charles Guiteau shot the Garfield, who died of complications from the wound two months later.

Oddly, that wasn't all for Lincoln, though. Two decades passed without a presidential assassination, but Lincoln's strange luck reared its head again in 1901. Lincoln traveled to Buffalo at the invitation of President William McKinley to attend the Pan-American Exposition. Although he arrived a bit late to the event, Lincoln was on his way to meet McKinley when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot the president twice at close range.

Following these three bits of bad luck Lincoln refused to attend any presidential functions. He dryly noted that there was "a certain fatality about the presidential function when I am present."

4. He Realized His Mom Was a Little Nutty

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Mary Todd Lincoln is fairly widely renowned today for being mentally ill, but it wasn't quite such an open secret when she was still alive. Robert, however, realized that his mother needed psychiatric help so she didn't become a danger to herself or an embarrassment to her family, so he had her involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in 1875 following a hearing that declared her insane.

Mary Todd was none too pleased about this plan. She not only snuck letters to her lawyer to help her escape from the institution, she also wrote newspaper editors in an effort to convince the public of her sanity. Mary Todd's ploy worked; at a second sanity hearing in 1876 she was declared sane and released from the Batavia, Illinois, sanatorium to which she'd been confined. However, by this point she'd been publicly humiliated and never really patched up her relationship with Robert before her death in 1882.

5. He Made Some Serious Dough on the Railroads


Once he got his legal practice up and running, Lincoln found a particularly lucrative clientele in the booming railroad industry. He spent most of his career working as a corporate lawyer for various railroads and train-related companies; the only breaks were his four-year stint as Secretary of War under Garfield and successor Chester A. Arthur and a four-year hitch as a minister to Britain under President Benjamin Harrison.

One of Lincoln's major clients was the Pullman Palace Car Company, for which he served as general counsel. When founder George Pullman died in 1897, Lincoln became president of the company, and in 1911 he became chairman of the Pullman Company's board. His lofty position in one of the country's most lucrative companies made him a millionaire and enabled Lincoln to build a sprawling estate, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont.

16 404 Pages That Are Worth the Error

The poem above is old, but the sentiment is universal. I first saw the verse at Plinko's error page, but the original author is nowhere to be found, although the verse owes a lot to Edgar Allan Poe. Looking for something on the internet that leads to an error page is frustrating, but there's an art to alleviating the reader's pain. Only this, and nothing more. Some websites make their 404 page entertaining in itself, and a few make it a real treat. You might even be distracted from what you were trying to find in the first place!

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is all about movies, so it makes sense that their error page gives you a well-known quote about your situation. There are about a dozen quotes that rotate, with some exact quotes, and some that are altered for the occasion.

BedMap is a hotel finder. They also found a great movie quote to adapt for their error page.

The Association for Computing Machinery's error page talks to you in text. The message goes on way after what you see here, until you feel much sorrier for the poor web server than you feel for yourself.

The error page at the game Brain Chef does the same thing as ACM, but instead of becoming melancholy, it flirts with you! And it keeps on, trying to keep you from navigating elsewhere.

The 404 page at Everlasting Blort acknowledges that the server is just as confused as you are. The page contains a flashing .gif that may trigger reactions if you suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. Those who visit Blort often already know that disorientation is what you go there for in the first place.

NPR's error page looks pretty normal for National Public Radio, but it cleverly contains a list of other things besides your missing destination link that cannot be found. After Amelia Earhart and the erased Watergate tape, they list Jimmy Hoffa, your luggage, Atlantis, and Waldo. Each item links to an article about the subject.

Homestar Runner blames you for the error. Which is just as well- I blame them for not adding anything new for years. Still, if you haven't seen all the cartoons, they are there for your enjoyment. But the other error messages they've used over the years were memorable as well.

Lesson learned: don't ever cram a Swiss cake roll into your disc drive.

This Russian business site 404 page is liable to make you forget what you were looking for, even if you don't understand a word of Russian (or Romanian -thanks, !). Let's all dance! This animation is found at more than one Russian site, so it's probably a feature of the hosting service. Warning: the song might be in your head all day.

Blue Fountain Media would like to develop websites and apps for you, but if you reach their error page instead, they offer on online version of Pac-Man for you to play. That makes everything all better, doesn't it?

Titlest golf equipment knows when you've lost a link, and they'll pitch in to help you look for it. In the rough. They've found a lot of golf balls there, after all.

Joel Veitch composed a song and video for Rathergood's 404 page. As you might guess, it's sung by a kitten.

Oh dear, you've got a 404
This isn't what you came here for
Oh dear, you've got a 404, there's nothing here to see
Oh dear, you've got a 404
This isn't what you came here for
Now that you're here, let's have a 404 party!

It's just as silly as anything you could possibly be looking for in his archives.

Woodland Farmers Market sells fresh produce in Washington state. They are also Star Wars fans and punsters.

Mashable did not find the page you're looking for. But they found your socks, so that's a plus, huh? Hey wait, who's wearing my socks? Oh, that's okay, they've got a hole in them anyway.

Bluegg is a company that designs websites. They also designed a sweet 404 page that says,

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! This page doesn't exist
Not to worry. You can either head back to our homepage, or sit there and listen to a goat scream like a human.

I listened to that goat scream quite a few times while preparing this item.

The Rolling Stones website gives you a video on their error page. A very appropriate video.

To be honest, these error pages came from a list that I've been keeping for seven years now. I just added to the list as I found great 404 pages, but I hadn't stopped to check how long the list was until recently. Over the years, many great error pages were lost because the website went out of business. Others just don't seem that creative anymore. Some error pages were changed or gutted due to copyright violations. To save time, I had kept a few posts that were lists of great error pages. Now I find that those posts no longer exist, and the links redirect to boring, everyday error pages. If you know of a wonderful error page everyone should see, please tell us about it!


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