Conservative Pundit, Former Child Actor Tony Blankley Dies at 63

Tony Blankley P 2006
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The former Newt Gingrich aide lost his battle with stomach cancer on Saturday, Jan. 7.

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, has died. He was 63. 

Blankley grew up in Los Angeles and was a child actor during the 1950s.

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Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington.

His death was announced by The Washington Times, where he was the newspaper's editorial page editor from 2002-2007 and confirmed by Edelman Public Relations, where Blankley served as executive vice president.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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In a statement Gingrich said, "Tony was a very special person. Everybody in our alumni who have heard about it have felt something in their hearts because he was more than a great professional. He was a great human being, he was a caring and loving person, he was a tremendous amount of fun, remarkably erudite and educated, and we will all miss him deeply."

Earlier, Blankley spent six years in the Reagan administration in a variety of positions, including speechwriter and senior policy analyst and four years as an aide to Republican Congresswoman Bobbi Fielder, who represented a district outside Fresno.

Less well remembered was Blankley's work as a child actor in such television shows as Lassie, Highway Patrol, and Sky King. He also appeared in The Harder They Fall with Rod Steiger and Humphrey Bogart and Make Room for Daddy with Danny Thomas.

Born in London in 1948, he arrived in the United States in 1949, when his father Jack Blankley, Winston Churchill's former accountant, emigrated to Los Angeles to work in the finance department of several movie studios. The family lived on the edge of Hancock Park. Blankley graduated from high school in Los Angeles, college at UCLA, and law school at Loyola University. Before moving to Washington in 1980, he served for eight years as a Deputy Attorney General in California.

After resigning as Gingrich's spokesman in 1997, Blankley was a frequent guest on CNN, appearing often on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, John King, USA, and State of the Union to offer analysis and perspective on the day's news, in addition to his work for the Washington Times and Edelman. He was the author of two books and a visiting senior fellow in national security communications at the Heritage Foundation.

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A charming raconteur who never lost his British accent, Blankley was well liked by both Democrats and Republicans.

He is survived by his wife Dr. Lynda Davis and his three children.