Helen Gahagan (November 25, 1900 - June 28, 1980) was a American actress and (under the name Helen Gahagan Douglas) a politician. She was of Scottish and Irish descent.
Gahagan was born in Boonton, New Jersey and raised Roman Catholic. She became a well known star on Broadway in the 1920s. In 1931, she married actor Melvyn Douglas. Gahagan starred in only one Hollywood movie, She in 1935 playing "The Ice Goddess" (perhaps best known for giving rise to the phrase "She who must be obeyed").
In the 1940s, she entered politics, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives from California for three terms. During this time she allegedly had an affair with Senator Lyndon Johnson.
In 1950, she ran for the United States Senate, but was defeated by Richard Nixon in a race considered by her supporters to be a prototypical smear campaign. Alluding to her supposed Communist or fellow traveller sympathies, Nixon called her "the Pink Lady" and said she was "pink right down to her underwear." Gahagan, meanwhile, gave Nixon one of the most enduring nicknames in politics: "Tricky Dick."
She died at 79 from breast and lung cancer.
Actress Illeana Douglas is her granddaughter.