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Ben Bradlee's Death

Ben Bradlee

The life and death of Ben Bradlee:

He turned a local Beltway newspaper into a journalistic giant, known and remembered for his close friendship with President John F. Kennedy and especially for his role in helping to bring down the corrupt administration of President Richard Nixon.

He was born Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee in Boston to a wealthy family that dated back to the Massachusetts colony in 1631. However, the family's money was wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash and it suffered financial setbacks during the Great Depression. Ben's father had to work odd jobs to keep the family going. Ben also suffered a personal crisis as a teen, when he battled polio at the age of 14 and was eventually able to walk again without limping.

He spent three years at Harvard and joined Naval ROTC, before his World War II service on a destroyer in the Pacific.

Ben Bradlee in ROTC

After the war, he started a newspaper in New Hampshire, but sold it after only two years and went to work as a reporter for "The Washington Post."

Ben had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. For Instance, he was riding in a trolley car past Blair House in 1950 when Puerto Rican extremists opened fire on that Presidential guest house while President Harry Truman was staying there. Bradlee had a page one, eyewitness account.

Or in 1957, he just happened to buy a house in Georgetown, a few months before a new family moved in across the Street. The new neighbors were then-Massachusetts Senator John Kennedy and his wife, Jacquelin Kennedy.

Ben Bradlee with the Kennedy's

That started a close friendship that bolstered Bradlee's journalistic reputation…

Ben Bradlee with JFK

…and gave him rare insights into the working of government after Kennedy became President in 1960.

Bradlee built a staff of talented journalists at "The Washington Post", operating under a set of high editorial standards.

Ben Bradlee

He took a stand for freedom of the press by publishing The Pentagon Papers in 1971. The secret study of the Viet Nam War was broken by the "New York Times". A legal battle followed all the way to the U. S Supreme Court, which upheld newspapers' right to publish the leaked documents.

However, his reputation as a journalist was cemented by the Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal, in which he guided the investigative work of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward…

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

…this not only led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974…

newspaper report of Nixon resigning

…but propelled the Post to the top as one of the most respected daily newspapers in the United States.

Jason Robards won a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar for his portrayal of Bradlee in the movie, "All the President's Men".

Ben Bradlee

For decades, Bradlee was one of only four people who knew who the "Deep Throat" Watergate source was, along with Woodward, Bernstein and the whistle blower himself, later revealed as FBI Associate Director Mark Felt.

Bradlee also nudged the Washington Post company to buy Newsweek.

In November 2013, Ben Bradlee received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

Bradlee married three times, including one that got tongues wagging in 1978, when he married star Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn.

She revealed in September 2014 that Bradlee suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years.

Bill Bradlee with his wife

He had four children from his three marriages: Benjamin Jr., Dino, Marina and Quinn.

Ben Bradlee died at home of natural causes in his Washington D.C home at the age of 93.

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