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Ben Bradlee, the famed executive editor of The Washington Post, died Tuesday at the age of 93.
Bradlee rose to media-superstar status thanks to the paper’s reporting of the Watergate scandal under his leadership — and the subsequent 1976 dramatization of those events, All the President’s Men. In the film, Jason Robards played Bradlee opposite Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman (as reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, respectively), and his guff, no-nonsense performance earned him a best supporting actor Oscar.
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In a crucial scene, Bradlee gives his Post reporters a bit of tough love, in a speech that would endear the real-life Bradlee to the nation.
“We’re under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there,” Robards’ says. “Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys f— up again, I’m going to get mad. Good night.”
Bradlee would also be portrayed by G.D. Spradlin in the 1999 Watergate spoof Dick, which starred Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams. A decade earlier, Henderson Forsythe played the journalist in the 1989 romantic comedy Chances Are. To add to the lore surrounding him, he met a young John F. Kennedy — then a senator — and would be friendly with the President throughout JFK’s tenure.
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