Sunday, November 21, 2010


Each Sunday, while 'Boardwalk Empire' makes it way toward the end of its first season, we're offering up the various portrayals of real-life historical figures in the show.....

'Boardwalk Empire'

Virginia Kull

From Wikipedia:
Nan P. "Nanny" Britton (November 9, 1896–March 21, 1991) was a figure associated with the Presidency of Warren G. Harding. She authored the 1927 memoir "The President's Daughter".

Born in Marion, Ohio, Britton developed an obsession with her father's friend, Warren G. Harding. As a young girl, her bedroom walls were covered with images of Harding from local papers and magazine. While still less than sixteen years old, she would also dawdle near his Marion Daily Star building in downtown Marion, Ohio hoping to bump into Harding on his walk home from work.

Her father, Dr. Britton, talked to Harding about his daughter's infatuation, and in turn, Harding spoke with the girl, assuring her that one day she would find the man of her dreams. At the time, Harding was involved in a very passionate affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, wife of James Phillips, co-owner of Marion's Uhler-Phillips Company, a local department store. Following her graduation from Marion High School in 1914, Britton moved to New York City where she hoped to start a career as a secretary.

Following Harding's death, Britton wrote what is considered to be the first kiss-and-tell book "The President's Daughter", published in 1927. In this book, she claimed to have been the mistress of U.S. President Warren G. Harding, and that Harding was the father of her daughter, Elizabeth Ann (1919–2005), who was later adopted by Britton's husband, Mr. Christian. One famous passage mentions their making love in a coat closet in the executive office of the White House.

According to Britton, Harding had promised to support her daughter, but after his sudden death in 1923, Harding's family refused to acknowledge the obligation. The ostensible purpose of the book was to earn money for the support of her daughter, and to champion the rights of illegitimate children. Eventually, a lawsuit (Britton v. Klunk) was brought; however, Britton was unable to provide any concrete evidence and buckled under the cross-examination of former Marion U.S. Representative Grant Mouser, which cost her the case. Britton's memoirs seemed sincere; however, her portrayal of Harding and his colloquialisms — which she found charming — painted a picture of a crude womanizer.

In "Only Yesterday", Frederick Lewis Allen remarks that, on the testimony of Britton's book, Harding's private life was "one of cheap sex episodes" and that "one sees with deadly clarity the essential ordinariness of the man, the commonness of his 'Gee dearie' and 'Say, you darling.'" The book was among those irreverently reviewed by Dorothy Parker for The New Yorker magazine as part of her famous Constant Reader column, under the title "An American DuBarry."

At the time of her death, aged 94, on March 21, 1991 in Clackamas County, Oregon, she was known as Nan P. Britton. She was always resolute that Harding was Elizabeth Ann's father.

Harding's poem to Nan Britton:

"I love your back,
I love your breasts
Daring to feel,
where my face rests.

I love your skin,
so soft and white,
So dear to feel
and sweet to bite.

I love your knees,
their dimple's kiss,
I love your ways
of giving bliss.

I love your poise
of perfect thighs,
They way they
hold me in paradise..."

'Boardwalk Empire' airs tonight at 9 PM on HBO.


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