Born in Winchester, Kentucky, Helen Thomas was raised in Detroit, Michigan where she attended public schools and later graduated from Wayne State University. Upon leaving college, she served as a copy girl on the old, now defunct Washington Daily News. In 1943, Helen Thomas joined United Press International and the Washington Press Corps.
For 12 years, Helen Thomas wrote radio news for UPI, her work day beginning at 5:30am. Eventually she covered the news of the Federal government, including the FBI and Capitol Hill.
In November, 1960, Helen Thomas began covering then President-elect John F. Kennedy, following him to the White House in January, 1961 as a member of the UPI team. It was during this first White House assignment that Helen Thomas began closing presidential press conferences with "Thank you, Mr. President."
In September, 1971, Pat Nixon scooped Helen by announcing her engagement to Associated Press' retiring White House correspondent, Douglas B. Cornell at a White house party hosted by then President Nixon in honor of Cornell.
Helen Thomas was the only woman print journalist traveling with then President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip in January, 1972. She has the distinction of having traveled around the world several times with Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, and Bush, Jr., during the course of which she covered every Economic Summit. The World Almanac has cited her as one of the "25 Most Influential Women in America".
Helen Thomas has written three books, including her latest, Thanks for the Memories Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House.