Former Sen. George McGovern on Life Support in South Dakota

George McGovern Headshot - P 2012
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George McGovern Headshot - P 2012

The 90-year-old former senator, who galvanized liberal Hollywood during his White House bid in 1972, was admitted to hospice care this week in Sioux Falls, according to family.

Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern, whose passionate, anti-war presidential campaign was the first to rely extensively on Hollywood contributions, was on life support and "no longer responsive" in hospice care on Wednesday, his family said in a statement.

The 90-year-old decorated World War II airman from South Dakota entered hospice in Sioux Falls on Monday "with a combination of medical conditions, due to age, that have worsened over recent months," according to a statement from his family.

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As an unshakable opponent of the Vietnam War, McGovern's candidacy against Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election was the beginning of liberal Hollywood's deep engagement in Democratic politics and causes.

Led by "Malibu Mafia" -- which included Max Palevsky, Norman Lear, Stanley Sheinbaum and Harold Willens -- the entertainment industry peaceniks donated more than $4 million to kick-start McGovern's campaign.

Celebrities like Warren Beatty and sister Shirley MacLaine went on the campaign trail on his behalf, drawing large crowds. Beatty even organized a concert in Los Angeles for McGovern to raise money and attract young voters.

Maureen Orth, covering the event for the Villiage Voice, noted that Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Carole King and Quincy Jones "performed for hordes of nubile screamers, who paid up to $100 a ticket to hear their favorite artists and gawk at the ushers," who included Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Julie Christie, Gene Hackman, Burt Lancaster and others.

"Those damn Republicans," a McGovern aide told Orth. "Before Warren (Beatty) came along with his Glamor Brigade there was no way we could compete with their $1,000-a-plate Agnew-Reagan sit-down dinners."

Even though Nixon beat McGovern in a landslide, the Malibu Mafia moved onto other causes and candidates as more people in Hollywood began to take part in Democratic politics.

McGovern served in the U.S Senate until 1981. In recent years, he focused on combatting world hunger. On Wednesday, McGovern's family encouraged people to donate to Feeding South Dakota in honor of the senator.