Madeleine Korbel Albright (1937-) was born Marie Jana Korbelova in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the daughter of a diplomat.
Three of her grandparents died in German concentration camps. In 1948, she moved with her family to the United States.
Because her father was an ambassador, Albright said that childhood meals always included lively discussions. "We only talked about foreign policy at our house... I never stopped being interested in foreign policy."
As the first woman Secretary of State, nominated by Bill Clinton and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1997, she became history's highest ranking woman in the U.S. government.
"Somebody said to me early on, do you realize that you have Thomas Jefferson's job? A little awe there," she observed about her job as the President's principal adviser on foreign policy.
"When I work, I really work. I rub my eyes and my makeup comes off, and I stick pencils in my hair," she told the New York Times.
A fund-raiser and chief legislative assistant for Edmund Muskie, congressional liaison for Jimmy Carter, speechwriter for Michael Dukakis, and Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1996, Albright was described by Washington Post writer Mary McGrory as "an intellectual... with a heart." Republican Senator Jesse Helms called her a "tough and courageous lady."
Fluent in French and Czech, Secretary Albright was known for her eloquence, toughness, and confidence. "The only plan I ever had was to try to use the knowledge that I had, work hard and have a good time -- my version of good time," she said.
Handle life with care.