Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET
Frank Mankiewicz, a long-time Washington insider who as press secretary to Robert Kennedy in 1968 announced the senator’s death by an assassin’s bullet and who later served as the head of NPR, has died at age 90.
Mankiewicz, who also worked in President John F. Kennedy’s administration and helped direct Sen. George McGovern’s unsuccessful 1972 presidential campaign, went to work in public relations after leaving NPR in 1983.
NPR’s David Folkenflik says Mankiewicz grew up as part of Hollywood royalty, with his father, Herman Mankiewicz, having co-written Citizen Kane (1941) with Orson Wells and his uncle, Joseph Mankiewicz, directing the 1950 classic All About Eve.
“While he was growing up, frequent guests in his house would have included the Marx brothers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ella [Fitzgerald and] Greta Garbo,” David tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep.
Regarding his time as the president of NPR (1977-1983), David says that he had “great ambitions” for the network, overseeing the creation of NPR’s flagship news program Morning Edition, among other things.
But he also left a $6 million deficit and forced a bailout of the network by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as its member stations.