- Category : Socialite
- Type : MEG
- Profile : 2/5 - Hermit / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Tension 2
Joanne King Herring (born July 3, 1929) is an American socialite, businesswoman, political activist, philanthropist, diplomat, and former television talk show host. Hailing from Houston, Texas, she is most known for her long association and political relation with the President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq (1977–88). Herring also served as the honorary consular at the Consulate-General of Pakistan based in Houston; she is also the recipient of Jinnah Medal– one of Pakistan's highest honor.
Throughout the 1980s, Herring played a role in helping the U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson to persuade the U.S. government to train and arm the Mujahideen resistance fighters to fight in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which began in 1979. These events inspired the book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History; Herring is portrayed by actress Julia Roberts in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War. Since the September 11 attacks, Herring has stated that she "did not make al-Qaeda," and that she "cannot predict the future."
Herring remains very active in social circles in Houston, and regularly contributes to and participates in benefits to help American troops and the Afghan people. Her second book, Diplomacy and Diamonds: My Wars from the Ballroom to the Battlefield, was scheduled for release on October 19, 2011.
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 enrolled 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 oilman Robert Herring and married him after only five dates. During that time Joanne served as honorary consul to Pakistan. After Robert Herring's death, she married Lloyd Davis, owner of Fisk Electric.
Herring's two sons both live in Houston.
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 also appeared on CNN with Ali Velshi multiple times to discuss continued American involvement in Afghanistan.
Marshall Plan Charities
In 2009, Herring founded Marshall Plan Charities, which seeks to "complement the ongoing U.S. military effort in Afghanistan by rapidly and effectively redeveloping normal, healthy civilian life village by village." The organization unites the efforts of various NGO's concerned with the Afghan people in hopes of providing villages with clean water, food, health care, schools, and jobs. With those five things, villages will no longer have to rely on the Taliban to provide them.
Involvement with Zia-ul-Haq
Herring is well known and remembered for her long association and politics relation with President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq. Her contacts and relations with Zia dated back to early 1970s, when he, as Brigadier-General, was a contingent commander of overseas Pakistan military formations in Jordan. In 1980, President Zia convened and held an honorary dinner to Robert and Joanne Herring in Islamabad. About the military intelligence program ran against the Prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto, Herring reportedly defended Zia's action, and well quoted: Bhutto had a trial by his own appointed judges and convicted him of a murder. The Koran serves as the (unofficial) Constitution of Pakistan. It exacts as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If you murder, you must die. The only thing Zia did was not to commute Bhutto's sentence. In a country whose constitution demand a capital punishment, Zia did not violate the Law."
In a reference written in Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile III maintained that "Herring was said to have been a most trusted American adviser." It was Herring who acquainted Charlie Wilson with Zia who later secured major funding for Pakistan's anticommunist policies.
Over the years, Herring's influence on Zia and his military administration grew further, and President Zia became so enamoured with Joanne he would interrupt cabinet meetings to take her call. In the memoirs of Foreign minister Yaqub Khan who quoted: "She absolutely had his ear, it was terrible!." President Zia neglected the protocols and equally dismayed the Foreign Office when he appointed her his honorary consular at the Houston-based Consulate-General of Pakistan. In a public ceremony held in Pakistan, President Zia personally honored her with Pakistan's highest civilian honor, Tamgha-e-Quaid-e-Azam (lit. Jinnah Medal). She paid a huge tribute to President Zia in her 2011 autobiography.
Husain Haqqani, former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States and former advisor to three Pakistani Prime Ministers, described Herring as "known more for glamour than for political wisdom," and Zia "showered her with hospitality to use her connections." Haqqani described her as knowing "little about the country," criticizing her for inaccurately describing "Pakistan as an Arab nation" in her memoirs.
Received the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge Award in the 1960s
Was knighted by the King of Belgium in the 1970s
Was made roaming Ambassador of Pakistan in the 1980s, and received the Tamgha-e-Quaid-e-Azam, the highest honor given by the nation of Pakistan.
Was made a Dame in Order of St. Francis in 2011
Was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 2014