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He grew up in Beverly Hills, California, the son of Sara (Aaronson) and screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who co-wrote Citizen Kane. His uncle, Joseph Mankiewicz, directed such films as All About Eve and Cleopatra. His brother is television writer Don Mankiewicz.
Mankiewicz received a B.A. in political science from University of California, Los Angeles in 1947; a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1948; and an LL.B. from University of California, Berkeley in 1955. He has been president of National Public Radio, regional director for the Peace Corps in Latin America, campaign director for 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, and presidential campaign press secretary in 1968 to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y. In June 1968, Mankiewicz made the famous announcement of Kennedy's death about 26 hours after the Senator was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He told reporters:
"I have, uh, a short..... I have a short announcement to read, which I will read, uh..... at this time. Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 AM today, June 6, 1968. With Senator Kennedy at the time of his death were his wife Ethel, his sisters Mrs. Stephen Smith, Mrs. Patricia Lawford, his brother-in-law Mr. Stephen Smith, and his sister-in-law Mrs. John F. Kennedy. He was 42 years old. Thank you."
In 1984, Frank Mankiewicz wrote for Quarante magazine owned by Kathleen Katz of Arlington. A piece he wrote for Quarante in 1985 was one of the first to point out how television coverage of politics had changed. The article was titled, "Politics and Media: In Search of An Angle." He wrote:
As part-time advisor to Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign in 1984—the first I had participated in actively since 1972—I was struck by the minutiae of the press's questions. The authorship of a speech—the identity of the speechwriters—seemed far more important than its content. Strategy was a primary concern—which votes are being sought? How much money has been raised for television commercials? Who will produce the commercials?.... Rarely if ever does the question turn on such things as "does he have the right ideas?" or "would he make a strong—or even good—president?"
Mankiewicz lives in Washington D.C. with his wife, novelist Patricia O'Brien, who also writes under the pseudonym of Kate Alcott. His son Josh Mankiewicz is an NBC News correspondent. His son Ben Mankiewicz is a Turner Classic Movies host and a host on The Young Turks, who also served from September 2008 to September 2009 as co-host (with Ben Lyons) of At The Movies. Both Josh and Ben Mankiewicz live in Los Angeles.
|President and CEO of National Public Radio|
Douglas J. Bennet