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Frank Mankiewicz, RFK Press Secretary, has passed away at 90


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#1 Christina Gill

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 03:15 PM

I thought this was worth mentioning.......

Rest In Peace


By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
OCTOBER 24, 2014
Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died on Thursday in Washington. He was 90.

The cause was heart failure, said Adam Clymer, a family spokesman, who is a former reporter for The New York Times. Mr. Mankiewicz, who lived in Washington, died in a hospital, where he had been treated for heart and lung problems, Mr. Clymer said.

A scion of Hollywood, the son of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane,” and the nephew of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed “All About Eve,” Mr. Mankiewicz grew up with an Algonquin West round table in his Beverly Hills household, regaled by movie stars and famous writers.

He became a journalist and lawyer and, inspired by the Kennedys, went to Washington at the dawn of the New Frontier and took an executive position at the Peace Corps, full of idealistic hopes. What he encountered were assassinations, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandals.

Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died on Thursday in Washington. He was 90.

The cause was heart failure, said Adam Clymer, a family spokesman, who is a former reporter for The New York Times. Mr. Mankiewicz, who lived in Washington, died in a hospital, where he had been treated for heart and lung problems, Mr. Clymer said.

A scion of Hollywood, the son of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane,” and the nephew of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed “All About Eve,” Mr. Mankiewicz grew up with an Algonquin West round table in his Beverly Hills household, regaled by movie stars and famous writers.

He became a journalist and lawyer and, inspired by the Kennedys, went to Washington at the dawn of the New Frontier and took an executive position at the Peace Corps, full of idealistic hopes. What he encountered were assassinations, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandals.


Mr. Mankiewicz in 2011.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / GETTY IMAGES
His face became familiar to the nation in 1968 as a spokesman for Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign for the White House, conveying the euphoria over the senator’s triumph in the California Democratic primary and then, within hours, grimly announcing Mr. Kennedy’s death by an assassin’s bullets in Los Angeles.

Four years later, joining a ragtag crew of eager young faces from Massachusetts and South Dakota, Mr. Mankiewicz coordinated Mr. McGovern’s all-but-hopeless presidential campaign, laced with moral outrage against the war, undermined by the selection of a running mate with a history of nervous disorders, and ultimately flattened under President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election steamroller.

As Watergate investigators exposed dirty tricks by White House operatives in the campaign, Mr. Nixon resigned and Mr. Mankiewicz — his name high on the president’s “enemies list” — wrote “Perfectly Clear: Nixon from Whittier to Watergate” (1973) and “U.S. v. Richard M. Nixon: The Final Crisis” (1975). He also became a syndicated columnist and a television news commentator.

From 1977 to 1983, Mr. Mankiewicz was president of NPR, the federally financed radio network of news, public affairs and cultural programming for much of America. He created programs and strengthened news operations. He also enlarged the staff, widened NPR’s reach to 281 noncommercial stations and doubled the audience to eight million listeners.

But his fund-raising efforts fell short in a national recession, and he resigned facing a $9 million deficit, about a third of NPR’s $26 million budget.

Mr. Mankiewicz then became executive vice president of Gray & Co., a public relations and lobbying firm. It was later acquired by Hill & Knowlton, and Mr. Mankiewicz became a vice chairman.

Frank Fabian Mankiewicz was born in New York City on May 16, 1924, one of three children of Herman and Sara Aaronson Mankiewicz. His father, early on a drama critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker, began his celebrated Hollywood career in 1926. The household was awhirl with the famous: regulars included F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the Marx Brothers, Greta Garbo, James Thurber, Margaret Sullivan, Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.

“They got serious about things that didn’t matter to me, such as clothes and how much money you made,” Mr. Mankiewicz said of his parents in a People magazine interview in 1982. “That kept me out of the movie business.”

He attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania for a year, then joined the Army infantry in World War II and saw combat at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he resumed his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in 1947, then earned a master’s degree in journalism the next year from Columbia University and found newspaper work in the Los Angeles area.

Mr. Mankiewicz married Holly Jolley in 1952 and had two sons with her. The marriage ended in divorce. In 1988, he married the novelist Patricia O’Brien.

Ms. O’Brien survives him, as do his sons, Joshua, a correspondent for NBC News, and Benjamin, a host of Turner Classic Movies; an older brother, Donald Mankiewicz, a novelist and screenwriter; four stepdaughters, Marianna, Margaret and Maureen Koval and Monica Krider; a 1-year-old granddaughter and eight step-grandchildren.

In 1955, Mr. Mankiewicz earned a law degree at the University of California, Berkeley, then practiced in Beverly Hills. He campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and then joined the new administration. Fluent in Spanish, he was director of the Peace Corps in Peru from 1962 to 1964, then directed Peace Corps operations in Latin America.

Close to R. Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps director and a Kennedy brother-in-law, Mr. Mankiewicz joined the circle of Kennedy advisers after the president’s assassination. Robert Kennedy, who resigned as the country’s attorney general and won a Senate seat from New York in 1964, made him his press secretary in 1966.

For an America divided over the Vietnam War, Mr. Mankiewicz articulated the senator’s split with President Lyndon B. Johnson, and after Mr. Kennedy began his run for the presidency in March 1968, Mr. Mankiewicz became prominent speaking for the notoriously shy Democratic front-runner. It seemed that both men might be destined for the White House after Mr. Kennedy won the California primary on June 4.

But the dream shattered minutes after Mr. Kennedy’s midnight victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel. Mortally wounded, Mr. Kennedy died 26 hours after being shot. Mr. Mankiewicz, who briefed the press around the clock, was haggard as he announced Mr. Kennedy’s death.

Mr. Mankiewicz went on to write a Washington-based syndicated column with Tom Braden in 1968 and ’69.

Directing the 1972 McGovern campaign, Mr. Mankiewicz strategized early primary successes. But he was partly to blame for the selection of Senator Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri as running mate. In a crucial interview, he failed to discover that Mr. Eagleton had been treated for nervous exhaustion and depression and had received electroshock therapy. The senator’s medical history caused a furor when it became public, and within days of his selection Mr. Eagleton withdrew, leaving the campaign irreparably damaged. Mr. McGovern settled on Mr. Shriver as a replacement.

Even before the election, Watergate skulduggery began to emerge. Mr. Mankiewicz cited “a clandestine campaign of bribery and espionage and sabotage financed with secret Nixon campaign funds.” But Mr. McGovern, a flat-toned campaigner, won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

In a 2009 article in The Washington Post, Mr. Mankiewicz said his first choice for vice president had been the CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, though the idea was quickly rejected by the campaign. He speculated that a McGovern-Cronkite ticket “might well have won that 1972 election, or at least have made it close.”

Correction: October 24, 2014
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary omitted some survivors. They are an older brother, Donald Mankiewicz; four stepdaughters, Marianna, Margaret and Maureen Koval and Monica Krider; and eight step-grandchildren.

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#2 Charles Drago

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 05:46 PM

Herman Mankiewicz, Franks' father, co-wrote Citizen Kane with its director and star, Orson Wells.

 

It is reported, perhaps apocryphally, that Herman -- as celebrated for his wit as for his consumption of alcohol -- was a frequent guest at dinner parties hosted by William Randolph Hearst, the character upon which "Kane" was modeled.  After one San Simeon (or Hearst Castle) feast, a besotted Herman backed his chair from table and vomited between his knees.  

 

Without missing a beat, Herman turned to the stunned-to-silence society diners and announced, "Don't worry ... the white wine came up with the fish."

 


"[Y]ou can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity." -- Graham Greene, The Quiet American

"If an individual, through either his own volition or events over which he had no control, found himself taking up residence in a country undefined by flags or physical borders, he could be assured of one immediate and abiding consequence. He was on his own, and solitude and loneliness would probably be his companions unto the grave." -- James Lee Burke, Rain Gods

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autumn too long
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