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Frank Mankiewicz, Aide to Robert Kennedy, Dies at 90

Frank Mankiewicz
Frank Mankiewicz talks to reporters outside Good Samaritan hospital in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 to update them on Robert F. Kennedy's condition.AP, file

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Frank Mankiewicz, the press secretary who went before television cameras to announce the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and later served as political director for presidential candidate George McGovern, died Thursday. He was 90.

Mankiewicz died of a heart attack at George Washington University Hospital, said a family friend, journalist Adam Clymer.

Mankiewicz was a longtime Democratic political operative as well as a lawyer, journalist and author.

The son and nephew of Hollywood filmmakers, Mankiewicz studied journalism and law. He worked for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles before assuming the role of President John F. Kennedy's Peace Corps director in Lima, Peru, in 1962 and later was a regional director in Washington. In 1966, he became press secretary to Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., who was assassinated two years later while campaigning for the party's presidential nomination.

Mankiewicz issued medical bulletins throughout the day as Kennedy lingered near death at The Good Samaritan Hospital. Some 26 hours later, Mankiewicz emerged, pale and haggard but poised, to deliver tragic news.

"I have a short announcement to read which I will read at this time. Sen. Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. today, June 6, 1968. ... He was 42 years old," Mankiewicz said.

Born on May 16, 1924, Mankiewicz grew up in Beverly Hills, California, among a family of notables. His father, Herman J. Mankiewicz, was a screenwriter who won an Oscar for co-writing the landmark film "Citizen Kane." His uncle, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, won four Oscars for writing and directing "A Letter to Three Wives" and "All About Eve."

Frank Mankiewicz served in the Army during the latter part of World War II. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1947, followed by a master's in journalism from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Survivors include his wife, author Patricia O'Brien, and two sons from an earlier marriage, NBC News correspondent Josh Mankiewicz and Turner Classic Movies cable channel host Ben Mankiewicz.

Frank Mankiewicz
Frank Mankiewicz talks to reporters outside Good Samaritan hospital in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 to update them on Robert F. Kennedy's condition.AP, file

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