Tony Blankley, the former Reagan speechwriter and press secretary to Newt Gingrich in Congress who was the conservative presence on KCRW's Left, Right and Center, died Saturday after battling stomach cancer. He was also a regular panelist on "The McLaughlin Group" and from 2002 to 2007 he was editorial page editor of The Washington Times. In an earlier chapter, Blankley was a prosecutor for the California Attorney General's office. Even earlier, he was a child actor who appeared in episodes of "Lassie” and “Highway Patrol” and played Rod Steiger’s son in “The Harder They Fall,” Humphrey Bogart’s final movie. AP
* Reaction from KCRW:
General Manager Jennifer Ferro:
"Tony was a gentleman, a thinker, and a fiercely intelligent voice for KCRW as a host of Left, Right and Center. Tony believed in the concept of the show and proved that dialogue between differing views is not only possible but can be productive. We will miss his insight, his wit, his intelligence and his willingness to listen as well as talk."
Matt Miller, co-host of "Left, Right and Center:"
"Tony Blankley was one of a kind. A fierce advocate, a deeply knowledgable thinker, an experienced political professional with an insider’s understanding of the way the world works, and a true wit. His rare blend of erudition, charm and good humor enlivened our show and the broader public debate for years. He’ll be truly missed."
Arianna Huffington, co-host of "Left, Right and Center:"
"I have been friends with Tony and his wonderful wife Lynda ever since we first met in Washington in 1993 and it was a real delight to have him join our Left, Right and Center team every week. He never failed to amaze me with his breadth of knowledge and culture, always unpredictable with his trademark wit and tailored suits. His resilience through his battle with cancer inspired us all. He was a true original and will be deeply missed.
Blankley went to Fairfax High School here and UCLA, and worked for Bobbi Fielder when she ran for Congress (and won) from the Valley.