Sunday, November 6, 1966 - 7:25pm - 7:30pm
Lyndon Johnson, Harold Holt
LBJ Ranch

Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt called LBJ to wish him well on his impending operation and to follow-up on LBJ's recent visit to Australia, the first official visit by a sitting U.S. President to Australia. Holt and Johnson had first met in 1942 in Melbourne when Johnson was stationed in the region. About five months before this call, Holt had earned notoriety in Australia when, while lunching at the White House, he committed Australia to go "all the way with LBJ" in Vietnam.

Operators connect the call.

Harold Holt: Hello?

President Johnson: Yes, Harold.

Holt: Is that you, Lyndon?

President Johnson: Glad to hear you.

Holt: [Unclear] bother to--you with a phone call, but we had a report here this morning that you were going to have your surgery earlier than had been previously announced.

President Johnson: We think probably a week earlier, probably the end of the week, but I'm going to check it tomorrow.

Holt: Oh, well, I was writing to you, and when I heard this report I thought, well, then it might not get to you in time, and the first thing I wanted to say is how very sorry we are that you've got to face up to this unpleasantness.

President Johnson: Well, that's mighty sweet--mighty good of you and we appreciate it. And I think it's very minor. We just got to--we got to--as long as there's a possibility of malignancy, we want to go find out about it.

Holt: Yes. Well I--you've got us concerned about this. You know that all good wishes and our prayers are with you.

President Johnson: I sure do, Harold, and we have most pleasant memories of our visit there, and I've got some nice pictures I'm going to send you. You've got some dandy. You look like a movie star.

Holt: Well, I got--I've got some film for you of the--film of the tour done by our information people, which I'll be sending over. I also will want to send you the film we made about our boys in Vietnam and the Fox Movietone [News] people tell me they've got a film that they can let me have if you would like to see it, and I'll get that too.

President Johnson: Oh, I wish you would. I'd enjoy it very much, and I'm going have a lot of time to see it.

Holt: You'll be seeing yourself from all angles around this place. The other thing I wanted you to know, and I've written this [unclear], because we're really concerned, and I didn't want you to go into  hospital without at least knowing that there a lot of warm and friendly people out here wishing you well.

President Johnson: Well, Harold, I know that, and I'm so grateful, and I hope you'll give my love to Mrs. Holt.

Holt: All the [unclear] since the visit has been very good.

President Johnson: Good. Well, I--

Holt: Nothing of the unpleasant kind at all, and I've recorded the policy speech for the election, and I don't think you'll find anything in that that will disappoint you.

President Johnson: Well--

Holt: So we're full steam ahead.

President Johnson: I know there's not anything you in Australia are going to do that disappoints anybody, because you're our kind of folks and we've just got to stay close together and get this job done. We're going to do it.

Holt: Anyhow, congratulations on the tour as a whole. I think it went wonderfully well. It focused attention just where you wanted it focused and you put us all on the alert that the job has to be done.

President Johnson: Fine. Well, we're very pleased with it.

Holt: [Unclear] best wishes to Mrs. Johnson. Young Christopher has got your picture hanging up now in the bedroom. It's an inspiration to him. [Johnson laughs]

President Johnson: That's wonderful, and you give our love to Mrs. Holt and remember me to Ed Clark.

Holt: I shall. He knew I was going ring you. In fact, I asked him how I could get onto you, and he gave me the [unclear]. So he said if I was talking to you to pass on his fondest regards.

President Johnson: Thank you so much, Harold, for calling. It's very, very typical and very generous, and I'm so grateful.

Holt: Well, I won't bother you--I won't bother you again about--on a telephone call unless it's really of sufficient importance. But this is important to us to [unclear] your spirits and facing up to this thing in good heart.

President Johnson: Well, it's never a bother. It's always a great pleasure. And you just pick up that phone any time you can raise enough money to do it, and I'll do likewise.

Holt: [Laughing] All right. And may it be in the results not too serious and certainly quick in its recovery. Look after yourself.

President Johnson: We'll let you know just soon as they get through with the operation.

Holt: Good man. Look after yourself.

President Johnson: Thank you, Harold.

Holt: [Unclear.]1

President Johnson: OK.

Holt: Goodbye.

  • 1. This may be "Don't leave them scared." Thanks to Craig Edwards for the suggestion.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.