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Madame Nhu Arrives in NYC

Oct. 8, 1963 - Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu (right), sharp-tongued First Lady of South Vietnam, arrived in New York from Paris last night to begin a 20-day effort to woo American public opinion. With her 17-year-old daughter, Le Thuy (pictured left), she left a plane at Idlewild Airport shortly after 8 p.m. for the start of a coast-to-coast visit. Madame Nhu said she hoped “to try to understand why we can’t get along better.” The 38-year-old sister-in-law of the South Vietnamese President, Ngo Dinh Diem, was greeted by a large crowd of newsmen. But official welcomers — Federal, state, and city — were absent. Just before boarding her plane in Paris, Madame Nhu accused American newsmen in Saigon of “criminal” behavior for having watched the fiery suicide of a young Buddhist monk Saturday. She made no comment on the beating Vietnamese plainclothes men administered to three U.S. correspondents at the suicide scene. The three were John Sharkey and Grant Wolfkill of NBC and David Halberstam of The New York Times. Madame Nhu is the daughter of wealthy parents. She was married at 16 years of age to Mr. Ngo Dinh Nhu, then twice her age. A prisoner of the Viet Cong during the first stage of the Indo-Chinese war, she threw herself into the political arena with her brother-in-law’s rise to power in 1954. She instigated Vietnam’s first feminist movement and, as a deputy to the National Assembly, pushed through law that protect women’s rights and outlawed prostitution, boxing, and dancing.


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