Leslie Uggams and Lyndon B. Johnson Walk Into the Lincoln Bedroom
When promoting their movies, actors are in the unenviable position of having to coming up with interesting stories each time they talk to the press. When you’ve been in show business for 67 years, as is the case with Leslie Uggams, you might feel all talked-out.
Yet, somehow, Uggams—star of stage and screen-- has managed to unleash a doozy of a tale in the midst of a recent press blitz for her latest film, Deadpool 2. (Uggams plays the title character's roommate, Blind Al.)
In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, the singer and actress reveals she was once propositioned by then-President Lyndon B. (but you doesn’t have to call me) Johnson during a tour of The White House.
“So he’s giving us a tour of everything and he’s talking. You know how when there’s a group of you, like at a museum, and you may stop to look at a painting longer than the others — well I was walking with the president. We were ahead of Bob Hope and the rest of the people that were entertaining. And we get to a bedroom, and he says, ‘Oh this is the famous Lincoln Bed.’ And I say, ‘Wow this is a part of history.’ And so he shows me the bed and slyly says, ‘I sure would like to get you onto that bed.’ I was like…what**?”**
Is it me or does this sound like a bad game of Clue? Was it Lyndon Johnson in the Lincoln Bedroom with something shaped like a candlestick?
Did It Really Happen?
Putting aside the fact that nobody in the late 1960’s ever uttered the phrase, “I was like…what,” I believe Uggams account of the events.
After all, LBJ was JFK’s veep before becoming president himself. It's well documented that when these two politicians weren't fighting commies, they were competing in a "pig race." Johnson—who referred to his Johnson as “Jumbo”—once said "he had more woman by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose."
Obviously, Uggams isn’t the first woman who was hit on by the randy prez, nor was she the last. Johnson, it would appear, was constantly on the prowl, which is why his pick-up line, “I sure would like to get you onto that bed” is so disappointing, even when said with his familiar Texas drawl. If you’re going to seduce somebody in the Lincoln bedroom, keep with the theme. “I want to be on you like Lincoln’s beard” or “You know what they say about a man with a big hat” or “I heard Mary Todd was crazy…in bed.”
Johnson also had a reputation for “whipping it out” making him the Louis C.K. of world leaders.
The shocked actress continued with the story, “But just as my eyes were crossing, Bob Hope came and walked into the bedroom and that was the end of that.”
If you know anything about Bob Hope’s history with women, you’ll understand why “that was the end of that” was rarely used to summarize what happened when Bob Hope walked into a bedroom.
Stop Me If You've Heard This One
In this era of #MeToo, is it fair for me to joke about Leslie Uggams experience? I would say, yes. But others would probably say no. And that is part of the problem.
Not all sexual harassment is or should be traumatic. Sometimes it just makes for a great story.
Of course, we’re not talking about a woman’s life being endangered or a job being threatened. The fact that I must acknowledge this disclaimer is also part of the problem.
If tragedy plus time equals comedy, will women ever regain their sense of humor when it comes to the boorish behavior of some men? Will “get a load of this guy” ever creep back into our discourse? I fear it will not.
“My truth” is that I like to joke about uncomfortable situations. It’s how I deal with the darkness of our world. But, I find myself ostracized by my fellow females—some of them professional comedians-- because I don't always treat this topic in the serious manner they feel it warrants.
If I were Leslie Uggams, I would have told this story so many times, people at parties would be rolling their eyes saying, “Uh oh, here she goes with the Lyndon Johnson story again.” But that’s just me. Or should I say, that's just metoo.