Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 11:14pm - 11:21pm
Richard Nixon, Freeman Gosden
White House Telephone



President Nixon: Yeah?

White House Operator: I have Mr. Freeman Gosden, sir.1

President Nixon: Oh, yeah.

White House Operator: Here you are.

An indistinct female voice can be heard in the background.

President Nixon: Hello.

White House Operator: Go ahead.

Freeman Gosden: Hello, Mr. President?

President Nixon: Freeman, I understand you haven't been well. I just wanted to say that naturally, I'm worried. But beyond that, I heard you called about the speech and I just wanted to thank you for it.

Gosden: Well, I'm going to tell you about that very—

President Nixon: Because you're—you know, you called me after the Fund Speech in 1952 and you were so great and I just—2

Gosden: Pretty good memory.

President Nixon: What did you honestly think?

Gosden: Well, I'm going tell you, it was the most sincere job that you've ever done.

President Nixon: Do you really think that?

Gosden: I really do. You were very sincere. And, as I was just telling Floyd Ablum—

President Nixon: Oh, yeah, you're there at his house, aren't you? Well, give them my best, will you?

Gosden: I certainly will. I was telling him that usually your greatest is when you're surrounded by 75 or 100 newspapermen, they're throwing curves at you, and you answer it. But I said, tonight, for some reason it was the most effective, and you did it so thoughtfully and so nicely and you delivered it—it was that reassurance of the whole damn thing.

President Nixon: You think it got through.

Gosden: I'm going tell you another thing, too. The end of that thing, I found myself, truthfully, Mr. President, crying.3

President Nixon: Well, actually, as a matter of fact, Freeman, I want to tell you a little secret. And you keep this between you and me?

Gosden: Right, sir.

President Nixon: When I presented this, you know, I presented 12 Medals of Honor to the next of kin, to a father, to a mother—

Gosden: Right.

President Nixon: And then to this little woman[Shirley Taylor, Karl's widow], you know, and, when that little boy saluted me, that four-year-old, I broke up. Nobody saw it because there was no press there and I couldn't really—

Gosden: It came over tonight that way.

President Nixon: I hope it wasn't too emotional.

Gosden: Nobody [unclear] and nobody thought it was mushy. Somebody said, “That was a very sweet thing he said at the end.” Somebody else says, “Wasn't that a nice thing?” And—

President Nixon: They didn't mind it, huh?

Gosden: No, and I just found a tear running down my cheek [unclear].

President Nixon: Well, I'll tell you—

Gosden: I thought you did a hell of a job.

President Nixon: But you know, Freeman, the thing we've got to remember is that that's what this is all about. That, it's what the president, President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower used to always think of, what I think of. Goddamn it, we just want to end this son-of-a-bitching war in a way that our kids can have a chance to grow up in a world at peace.

Gosden: That is right.

President Nixon: And if we bug out, hell, they're going to have war.

Gosden: That's—

President Nixon: Right?

Gosden: And I thought to send you a telegram this morning, but I said I'd better keep my nose out of this. I like an expression like, if you ever get to it, that not an American, a friend, a relative, a son or anybody that you know that is American will fight on foreign soil if I can help it.

President Nixon: That's right.

Gosden: And that's what you—if you just lay it—and you did it so sweetly, tonight. So I say, I don't see how you can gild that lily, to tell you the truth.

President Nixon: Well—

Gosden: You did a hell of a job.

President Nixon: Well, coming from a pro like you, I appreciate it.

NARA Excision
Category: Personal Returnable
Duration: 1m 21s

President Nixon: Incidentally—if you got a minute?

Gosden: Sure. I've got all the time you want.

President Nixon: It's a—I thought that it was good that I met with the movie people and tried to say, “By God, we're for you, kids, but we, you know, we're going to do the best we can.”

Gosden: Yeah.

President Nixon: They, they need to clean their own house, though. Huh?

Gosden: I was going to say that to you, but I didn't want to get in trouble with [movie executive and Republican fundraiser] Taft Schreiber or any of the boys.

President Nixon: I know.

Gosden: But here's the thing: they have got to—you say you want something, and you control this whole industry, why don't you clean your own place—

President Nixon: That's right.

Gosden: —and get these dirty pictures off?

President Nixon: Get the dirty pictures off. And also get their goddamn costs down so they can compete.

Gosden: That's right.

President Nixon: And the unions have got to—now, I couldn't agree more. That's why when I went out to see [Hollywood producer Samuel] Goldwyn, you know, I praised him for the fact that he didn't produce any dirty pictures. Of course, he would've if it had been in that period, but he didn't, this—at least while we were there.

Gosden: Yeah, that's right. I tell you, the picture business is something else. When you get into that, I hope you've got your eyes open what you're doing there, because that is a real tricky [unclear]—

President Nixon: I know it is. I know it is. Well, we'll, before we do anything, we'll call you.

Gosden: [laughs] One of these days, I'll send you some—I've got a couple of ideas that might do a little bit [unclear]—

President Nixon: Good. Good. But in the meantime, by God, you keep your spirit up, boy, we're all with you. You know?

Gosden: Yes, sir. You were sweet to call.

President Nixon: All right.

Gosden: I'll tell—

President Nixon: Bye.

Gosden: —Floyd hello for you.

President Nixon: Bye.

Gosden: Good-bye.


1 Gosden played Amos in the radio show, “Amos ‘n' Andy.” (↑)

2 President Nixon is referring to a 23 September 1952 televised speech he delivered. Better known as the “Checkers speech,” because Nixon mentioned the cocker spaniel that a supporter had given his family, the speech was a reply by Nixon, then the Republican vice presidential candidate, of allegations that he was the improper beneficiary of a “slush fund.” Text of and audio of Nixon's speech, 23 September 1952. (↑)

3 At the conclusion of his 7 April 1971 television address on Vietnam, Nixon dramatically set aside his written copy of the speech and delivered a rehearsed “ad lib” conclusion. He told how Marine Sgt. Karl G. Taylor died rushing a machine gun nest to save his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. His little boy, Kevin, attended the White House ceremony where Sgt. Taylor was honored posthumously with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Kevin saluted President Nixon. (↑)

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