By now, you’ve probably heard of the passing of Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be appointed Secretary of State by President Bill Clinton.
His long list of accomplishments and accolades is duly noted in his obituaries which can be found on the internet, in all newscasts and in publications around the world. She was truly a legend in the world of global diplomacy and politics.
I had the honor of working with The Real Madam Secretary one afternoon in May 2012. Here’s how it all went down.
Secretary Albright had graciously agreed to appear for an address at the Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. It was a big deal, facilitated by former WDIV Local 4 General Manager, Marla Drutz, and moderated, of course, by our longtime news anchor, Devin Scillian.
By then, Secretary Albright had retired from her illustrious diplomatic career. She had recently written an autobiographical account of her childhood in Czechoslovakia during the rise of the Third Reich and the long and arduous journey of escape and eventual immigration to the United States. The full and fascinating account is told in his book, “Prague Winter”.
The most amazing part of the story is that it wasn’t until she became Secretary of State that she even knew the real reason her family fled the expanding Nazi empire. In fact, Madeleine Albright, born Marie Jana Kobelová and although she was raised Roman Catholic, was actually Jewish. Her parents never discussed her true heritage and it wasn’t until she became Secretary of State that she found out the truth – via research and reporting by The Washington Post, which at the time , was owned by our station’s parent company, now known as Graham Media.
So that’s the backstory and connection to WDIV Local 4/ClickOnDetroit, but Madeleine Albright – a respected and revered scholar, activist, author, ambassador and secretary of state also enjoyed punctuating her impressive efforts , with a bit of glamour.
Enter Jon Jordan (that’s me), stylist for The Stateswomen.
The rabbi had offered his office for free to use as a makeshift makeup studio, and I was positioned, prepped, and ready. I had even read Winter in Prague, cover to cover, in order to make relevant and witty jokes. Marla came in, introduced me, and I immediately responded with the appropriate greeting, “Madam Secretary.”
“Oh, you can just call me Madeleine,” she said with a casual, dismissive wave of her impeccably manicured hand.
As I quickly started putting on my makeup, assuring her that I wasn’t going to overdo it, she observed that a bit of eye drama was okay, that she liked a healthy burst of blush” on the cheekbone. , not below”, and that lip color was “negotiable”, which figures, given his skills.
My plan to impress Madam Secretary with a conversation about current affairs (everyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m, like, far too educated), ended up turning into an enthusiastic exchange about… props. Turns out Madeleine Albright believed accessories made the woman. I mean, with a doctorate, perseverance, patience and persuasion. But seriously, she’s become pretty well known for her ability to use costume jewelry as an unspoken commentary in any given situation or encounter.
There are so many tales and examples of him – with particular attention paid to his wielding of brooches, that the Smithsonian Museum has actually mounted an exhibit based on his unique fad and prompted by author Albright to write a memoir entitled “Read My Pins”.
Madam Secretary’s moods and motivations could actually be “pinned down” by simply observing her pin choice. It could be a reflection of his devout patriotism – something stars and stripes or a reflection of his continuous efforts to bring peace – there were many ornaments of doves.
Crab pins were not a good sign and turtles were an indication of impatience. When she showed up wearing certain animal designs – especially carnivores, caution was the right reaction.
A snake pin infuriated Saddam Hussein’s regime and his Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Speak No Evil monkey pin was the choice for a controversial encounter with Vladimir Putin.
I’m pretty sure the most important piece in the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s extensive paraphernalia collection is the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to her by President Barack Obama. She received it on May 29, 2012, just a few weeks after I had the pleasure of seeing her work with her.
But on May 6, 2012, she graciously agreed and was truly thrilled…to accept what she observed to be “the perfect shade of pink” long-lasting lip gloss from me.
Related: Madeleine Albright, 1st female US Secretary of State, has died
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