(0.7 l. ft.; Box 1-3)


This collection is available in whole for research use. 
 

 

Ted Graber (ca. 1920-2000) was a California interior decorator popular with the affluent Hollywood social scene. He is known for working in the “Hollywood Regency” / “Hollywood traditional” style pioneered by his original mentor and partner William “Billy” Haines. He was also one of several personal decorators for President and Mrs. Reagan.

Ted Graber was born in Los Angeles, California around 1920. His father was an antiques dealer and cabinet maker. As a youth, Mr. Graber spent his time with his father learning about antiques and furniture making. Mr. Graber studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and served in the Army during World War II. He then joined Mr. Haines, who was already a well-known West Coast decorator. Mr. Haines died in 1973.

Graber was known to Mrs. Reagan from her many social contacts. In the late 1960s, Graber and Haines decorated Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, for Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Lee. He subsequently redecorated the Annenberg’s well known Palm Spring, California residence, Sunnylands.

In 1981 First Lady Nancy Reagan hired Graber to redecorate the family quarters of the White House. The redecoration cost nearly one million dollars, and was largely paid for by private donations from individuals. Graber and Mrs. Reagan used the Reagan’s family furniture in many cases. In addition, they sought out White House antiques which were brought out of storage, refurbished and used in the redecorations. Nearly all the curtains were replaced, many of which had been in place since the Jackie Kennedy remodel of the White House. In addition, a great deal of “behind the walls” refurbishing was done of plumbing and electricity at this time.

After the private residences were completed, Graber continued as a long term collaborator with Mrs. Reagan throughout the Reagan Administration advising on decorations for special events, state dinners, menus, and holiday decorations. The Reagans were both genuine friends with Graber. The official Presidential Diary shows Graber as a frequent overnight guest and enjoying private dinners and lunches with the Reagans.

His relationship with Mrs. Reagan continued after the White House. He assisted with the decoration of the Reagan’s post-presidential private residence in Bel Air, Los Angeles, President Reagan’s post-presidential office in Century City, California, and the private Reagan quarters at the Reagan Library and Museum. His work was continued by interior designer Peter Schifando. Mr. Schifando assisted Graber on the White House redecoration.

Gerber retired officially in 1989 due to Alzheimer’s Disease. He died in Sonoma, California on June 3, 2000

Collection Description

This collection was created from material donated to the Library from Jean Mathison. Ms.

Mathison was Graber’s assistant for over 30 years and also worked with famed Hollywood designer Billy Haines. Mathison states the material was part of the “clean up” of the old office space for Haines / Graber.

This collection largely consists of photographs of White House private residence rooms redecorated by Graber in the early 1980s. These photographs were used to assess and describe the Reagan’s personal items auctioned by the Reagan Foundation after Mrs. Reagan’s death in 2016.

Other material includes news articles on Graber, Billy Haines, and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the west coast of the United States in 1983 (Graber decorated the 20th Century Fox film stage used for the large dinner given by the Reagans for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip). Other material includes White House programs, note cards and trip books from Graber’s social association with the Reagans during the 1980s. Also included is a copy of the original museum design for the Reagan Library.

This collection is arranged into four series: SERIES I: White House Decoration; SERIES II: White House Consultation Material; SERIES III Post-Presidential Consultation; and SERIES IV: Ted Graber Personal Material.

SERIES I: WHITE HOUSE DECORATION, 1981-1989 (0.3 l.ft.; Box 1)

This series consists of mostly photographs of the completed rooms decorated by Mr. Graber and various assistants. In addition material includes information on Mr. Graber and his decorating styles; information on redesign of the Oval Office rug; Graber’s assistance on formal rooms in the White House including the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room; provenance information on furniture and other items used in the White House; and some general background information on the White House, the Old Executive Office Building and the White House grounds.

SERIES II: WHITE HOUSE CONSULTATION MATERIAL, 1981-1989 (0.1 l.ft.; Box 1)

This series consists of material related to Mr. Graber’s association with Mrs. Reagan as a consultant on social issues and decorating for State and personal entertainments including advice on flower arrangements, menus and Christmas decorations. It includes press accounts of Queen Elizabeth’s 1983 visit to the west coast of the United States and covers the large dinner given in her honor by the Reagans with Graber serving as a consultant.

SERIES III: POST-PRESIDENTIAL CONSULTATION, 1989 (0.1 l.ft.; Box 1-2)

This series consists of the first efforts at designing the President’s post-Presidential office; requests for Graber’s comments on the original Reagan Library museum designs; and Graber’s material from the presentation of the official Reagan portraits in 1989l

SERIES IV: TED GRABER PERSONAL MATERIAL (0.2 l.ft.; Box 2)

This series consists of material regarding William Haines; Ted Graber; President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan; and mementos from events and Presidential trips involving Graber.

Last Updated: 09/26/2020 01:24AM

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