Ellen M. Taussig was born into polite old-line Philadelphia society but defied her family's expectations by becoming a newspaper reporter in what a colleague later remembered as "those profane, cigar-smoking Ben Hecht days when newsrooms were virtually all-male preserves."
A diminutive woman known as much for her stylish clothing and refined manner as her nose for hard news, she worked for six papers, including The Buffalo Evening News, where she was a reporter for 25 years, retiring in 1974.
During her career Miss Taussig, who died at age 98 Wednesday in Cape May, N.J., crossed paths with royalty, political leaders and star entertainers -- experiences chronicled in her 1987 memoir, "Wings on My Heels: A Newspaperwoman's Story."
The journey included a number of "scoops," starting with the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, which she covered for the Evening Bulletin.
Entering a hotel room crowded with delegates, Miss Taussig saw copies of the secret party platform and slipped one into a large handbag. Drawing on her drama training, she faked a fainting spell, and, as she was carried from the room, passed the bag to a fellow reporter. The Bulletin had a national exclusive.
Her work as a News feature writer, starting in 1949, included interviews with first ladies Jacqueline Kennedy and Patricia Nixon and her coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's 1973 visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
"Ellen was the grand lady of The News reporting staff," recalled Managing Editor Edward L. Cuddihy. "She could cover Queen Elizabeth's visit to Canada with the same facility as a United Way drive. At a time when the newsroom was a pretty formal place to start with, Miss Taussig stood out for her always fashionable hats and gloves."
Born in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill, she attended the private Springside School and was a 1924 society debutante before heading off to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
She tried a variety of jobs before landing at the Philadelphia Evening Ledger in 1939.
From the Ledger she moved to the Philadelphia Daily News and then on to the Philadelphia Record. She worked for a year at a Camden, N.J., paper before starting at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. She was with Hearst Magazines before coming to Buffalo.
Miss Taussig lived on the West Side until 1990, when she moved to New Jersey.
A sister, Elizabeth T. Flershem of West Cape May, N.J., survives.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday in Episcopal Church of the Advent, Cape May. Burial will be in Whitemarsh, Pa.