Houston Treasure for 2009
Photo by: Evin Thayer Studios
The comment Joanne’s friends had after seeing Julia Roberts play her in the film Charlie Wilson’s War was always the same. “Sure, Julia had portrayed her as a beautiful, smart, energetic and politically savvy woman, but Roberts failed to convey the warmth and kindness that are such a part of the Joanne King Herring legend.”
A third generation Houstonian, she is the essence of southern beauty, charm and good manners, having grown up in River Oaks and attending University of Texas before leaving to marry real estate tycoon Bob King. A legendary hostess and young mother of two boys, she was asked to be a guest on the Channel 11 midday show and was such a hit they asked her to host it to raise the viewership of housewives. “The Joanne King Show” became one of the highest rated such shows in the U.S.
Joanne was the official Houston and international hostess for HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio. She has been knighted by the King of Belgium, won the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge Award, been named to “Who’s Who in America” and awarded an “Ondas”–the Spanish Oscar. Named one of the world’s “Most Legendary Women” twice, Joanne is the only double honorary consul in history, serving two countries simultaneously–Morocco and Pakistan–for ten years. While U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, she won that country’s highest honor.
Joanne has entertained heads of state, princes, foreign ministers and ambassadors. She co-chaired the Special Olympics with Henry Kissinger in New York City, was on the board of the National Gallery and helped start Houston’s UNICEF chapter and The Women’s Home. Her love for children shines in her charity work. She started a camp for foster children and funds a group of 100 single mothers in five counties, helping with everything from personal hygiene to money management.
A direct descendant of George Washington, Joanne is unapologetic about her patriotism. A few months after the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, convinced that American security was at risk if the Soviets got a Middle East foothold, she smuggled herself and her son into that mountainous land to film the atrocities that Russian forces were inflicting on villagers. Her convictions inspired Charlie Wilson’s War.