293. Memorandum From the Director of the White House Office of Administration (Harden) to President Carter1


  • World Hunger

When your mother and I were in California last fall, she and Shirley MacLaine got into a discussion of their respective experiences with poverty in India.2 I was fascinated by their interaction and subsequently suggested to them that they work together in making the public more aware of the problem.

On December 3rd, an initial meeting was held with representatives from AID, ACTION,3 NSC, Peter Bourne’s study group,4 Midge’s5 staff, the Domestic Policy Staff, and Shirley MacLaine. A wide range of options were discussed and a decision was made to hold a second meeting on January 5th with Miss Lillian in attendance.

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The outgrowth of the second meeting was the decision that the most productive use of Miss Lillian’s and Shirley’s time would be to appear in a documentary pointing out what is and can be done and how the average citizen can help. The representatives from the various agencies were asked to develop background material which could be used in production of the film.

On January 11th, Midge and I met with Shirley and Rupert Hitzig, a producer of documentaries, to discuss details and possible approaches. It was felt that the maximum exposure could be obtained by having a one-hour documentary during prime time on one of the major networks. It was further felt that there would be a good likelihood that the network would actually produce the film, thereby eliminating the need to raise any funds. Rupert has taken responsibility for drafting an outline.

Since it is projected to take 6–12 months to produce the documentary, we are considering the possibility of having Miss Lillian and Shirley appear jointly on some of the talk shows during the next few months.

Everything is progressing on schedule, and the main purpose of this memo is to make you aware of what we are trying to do. I thought you might want to mention it to your mother the next time you speak with her, and you might want to drop Shirley a brief note letting her know you appreciate the work she is doing with Miss Lillian.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Donated Material, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, National Security Issues, Box 87, National Security Issues—World Food [6/30/1977–12/17/1979]. No classification marking. Richard Harden became the Director of the White House Office of Administration and the President’s Special Assistant for Information Management in December 1977.
  2. Lillian Carter visited American actor Shirley MacLaine’s home in Malibu, California, in November 1977. (Nancy Collins, “What Makes MacLaine Run?,” The Washington Post, November 14, 1977, p. C1) On December 2, 1977, MacLaine met with Carter administration officials at the White House to discuss world hunger. (Memorandum from Marilyn Haft to Margaret Costanza and others, December 9, 1977; Carter Library, White House Central Files, Box HE–6, Subject Files—Executive, HE–3, 9/30/77–12/31/77) Lillian Carter served as a Peace Corps volunteer in India for 2 years in the 1960s. She returned to the country in February 1977 as leader of the official U.S. delegation to the funeral of Indian President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. MacLaine visited India in 1964 and 1967; in addition, a 1970 report indicates that she provided financial assistance to an Indian orphanage. (“Hollywood Today: Shirley’s Indian Orphanage,” The Chicago Tribune, February 20, 1970, p. B16)
  3. On March 24, 1971, Nixon sent Congress a proposal to place several Federal volunteer programs, including the Peace Corps, under the jurisdiction of a single agency. The new agency, called ACTION, began operations on July 1, 1971. For the text of Nixon’s message to Congress proposing the reorganization, see Public Papers of the Presidents: Richard M. Nixon, 1971, pp. 466–471.
  4. On September 30, 1977, Carter announced that Bourne would lead an interagency World Hunger Working Group that would provide recommendations on global malnutrition and hunger. For the text of Carter’s memorandum on the formation of the group, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1978, Book II, pp. 1696–1697. Documentation on the Working Group is in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.
  5. Reference is to Margaret Costanza, the President’s Assistant for Public Liaison from 1977 until 1978.