Trailblazer

A Life Inside the White House: Remembering Veteran Journalist Helen Thomas (PHOTOS)

With a voice full of gravel and a penchant for making powerful men squirm, Helen Thomas earned her place in the front row. See photos of her career.

AP

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Helen Thomas, the first female member of the White House press corps and a Washington institution, died Saturday after battling a long illness. She covered presidents for half a century and never seemed to shy away from a story or controversy. With a voice full of gravel and a penchant for making powerful men squirm, Thomas earned her earned her place in the front row.

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Thomas asks President Obama a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in May 2010. She would resign a month later after controversial comments she made about Israel created an uproar. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

As "dean of the White House press corps," Helen Thomas always sat in the center front-row seat.  

Ron Edmonds/AP

President Obama listens to a question from Helen Thomas during his first news conference in the East Room of the White House. Obama was the 10th president Thomas covered over her long career. 

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The veteran reporter shared a birthday with President Obama. The president marked his 48th with birthday greetings and a cake for her 89th in the White House Press Briefing Room.

Charles Dharapak/AP

President Bush greets Thomas during his final briefing in the Press Briefing Room of the White House. Thomas once called President Bush "the worst president ever."

Greg Gibson/AP

President Clinton "interviews" Thomas, then a UPI White House correspondent, in the White House briefing room in 1995. Clinton made a statement after her death that called her "a pioneering journalist who, while adding more than her share of cracks to the glass ceiling, never failed to bring intensity and tenacity to her White House beat."

Barry Thumma/AP

In a red dress, Thomas listens as President George H. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III tell members of the press in 1989 of the agenda at the upcoming Malta summit.

Barry Thumma/AP

President Ronald Reagan greets Thomas and AP reporter Jim Gerstenzang before an interview in the Treaty Room of the White House in 1981.

Charles Tasnadi/AP

President Jimmy Carter and press secretary Jody Powell talk with Thomas and Sam Donaldson while aboard Air Force One prior to landing at Andrews Air Force Base in 1979. 

AP

President Richard Nixon once told Thomas that he didn't like women in slacks. Thomas wore a dress the next day, but said she wouldn't stop wearing them altogether. "Pantsuits are a part of my life. I'm always in motion, jumping on and off helicopters, in and out of Air Force One."

Bill Allen/AP

Frances Lewine of the Associated Press, a longtime friend of Helen Thomas’s, asks President John F. Kennedy for copies of his announcement pledging federal power to preserve order and lives in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

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A small nameplate assigns the center seat on the front row of the Brady Press Briefing Room to "Dean" Helen Thomas in the West Wing of the White House.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Thomas reacts to seeing her seat on the front row of the remodeled James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House in 2007.

Charles Dharapak/AP

The seat of former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, front-row center, is seen in the James Brady Press Briefing Room in 2010, one month after on-camera remarks that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" erupted into a scandal that led to her resignation.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty

Thomas reads the newspaper while sitting in her chair in the White House press room in August 2006.