Joanne Herring (born July 3 1929) is a Houston socialite, political activist, businesswoman, and former talk show host.
In the 1980s Herring played a role in helping U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson persuade the American government to train and arm resistance fighters in Afghanistan to fend off Soviet troops, which invaded and then occupied the country in 1979. These events inspired the book Charlie Wilson's War ; Herring is portrayed by actress Julia Roberts in the 2007 film adaptation.
Born in Houston
as Joanne Johnson
, Herring grew up in the city's affluent River Oaks
neighborhood, and her childhood acquaintances included James A. Baker, III
, who would later serve as Secretary of State
. She matriculated at the University of Texas at Austin
, but left after her sophomore year to marry real estate developer Robert King.
A fixture on the Houston social circuit, Herring became notorious for the lavish, decadent birthday party her husband threw for her in 1959. The "Roman orgy"-themed affair included period costumes and a mock slave auction, and was covered by Life magazine and various local news media. In the late 1950s, she began a 15-year-long hosting tenure for the self-titled daytime talk show "The Joanne King Show" on Houston's KHOU-TV station. By 1974, her show had moved to KPRC.
After her divorce from Robert King, by whom she had two sons, Beau and Robin, she met and married oilman Robert Herring after only five dates. During that time Joanne served as honorary consul to both Pakistan and Morocco. After Robert Herring's death, she married Lloyd Davis, owner of Fisk Electric.
Herring appears as herself in the comic 1999 documentary feature Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me
and the 1970s German television news series V.I.P.-Schaukel
. In the former — the story of a Houston businessman who marries five times — Herring playfully introduces herself by saying, "Well, my name is Joanne Johnson King Herring Davis, and I've had almost as many husbands as he's had wives." Herring has her own Web site,
, that has a number of unique photos.
- "It's just fine to be liberal. I love it when somebody argues with me."
- "People think it's Joanne the social queen. That's not me at all. I get bored to death when people talk about nothing."
- "I was driving in traffic and someone gave me the finger. (She drives a red Jaguar convertible.) I smiled and blew him a kiss."
- "It's very hard to be a woman. It isn't enough to be supposedly intelligent, you have to be glamorous and elegant, too. And if you're not, men are very disappointed. If I only had to put on a tie and run a rag over my shoes, that would be just wonderful."