PR Pro Tony Blankley Dies at 63

Edelman Exec Was Advisor to Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich

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Edelman's Tony Blankley has died at the age of 63 after a battle with stomach cancer. He was press secretary for Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and most recently an exec VP-public affairs in Edelman's D.C. office.

Rob Rehg, president of the Edelman Washington office, said in a statement: "Tony's integrity, intellect and mastery of history and politics enriched our lives. He brightened our world with his colorful sartorial style, good humor and wonderful storytelling. He was someone who truly fit the definition of a scholar and a gentleman. We were blessed to have had his wisdom, generous spirit and good company as part of our work family. We will miss him terribly."

Mr. Blankley has been a commentator on outlets such as CNN, NBC and NPR. From 1990 to 1997, he was press secretary and general adviser to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Before that , he worked for six years for President Ronald Reagan in a variety of positions, including speechwriter, senior policy analyst and deputy director of planning and evaluation.

According to the Associated Press, Mr. Blankley spent 10 years as a prosecutor with the California attorney general's office before entering politics. He was born in London but moved to California with his parents as a child and worked as a child actor in the 1950s, appearing in such TV shows as "Lassie" and "Highway Patrol" and playing Rod Steiger's son in the movie "The Harder They Fall."

Mr. Gingrich took a break from his campaign in New Hampshire on Sunday to pay tribute to his friend and colleague. The Daily Beast reports:

"Tony was a dear friend, a great colleague," Mr. Gingrich said, his eyes shining with tears. "He was a great writer and had a terrific career after Congress. His father had been the accountant for Winston Churchill, had come to Hollywood to do finance for the movies, and Tony grew up with this passionate commitment ... to freedom, a deep sense of affection for Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.... He was a very special person and we all in our alumni group have felt something in our hearts because he was more than a great professional, he was a great human being. He was a caring and loving person. He was a tremendous amount of fun, remarkably erudite and educated. And we will all miss him deeply."

Mr. Blankley lived in Great Falls, Va., and is survived by his wife and three children.

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