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Helen Thomas 2009
Thomas in February 2009

Helen Thomas (August 4, 1920 – July 20, 2013) was an American author and news service reporter. She was a member of the White House press corps and opinion columnist. Thomas was the first female White House press correspondent.

Thomas was the only female print journalist to travel to China with President Richard Nixon during his historic trip in 1972. She traveled around the world several times with all U.S. Presidents since Richard Nixon. She covered every Economic Summit since 1975.

Thomas worked up to the position of UPI's White House Bureau Chief, a post she would hold for over 25 years. While serving as White House Bureau Chief, she authored a regular column for UPI, "Backstairs at the White House." The column provided an insider's view of various presidential administrations.

Thomas was the only member of the White House Press Corps to have her own seat in the White House Briefing Room. All other seats are assigned to media outlets.

Thomas was born on August 4, 1920 in Winchester, Kentucky. She is of Lebanese descent. Thomas was raised in Detroit, Michigan. She studied at Wayne University. Thomas was married to Douglas B. Cornell from 1971 until they divorced 1982. They had no children. Thomas died on July 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. from natural causes, aged 92.

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