Home / Trending / John V. Tunney, Boxer’s Son Who Lasted One Term in the Senate, Dies at 83

John V. Tunney, Boxer’s Son Who Lasted One Term in the Senate, Dies at 83

In 1970, when he was once 36, Mr. Tunney ran for the Senate. He was once blessed with a vulnerable Republican opponent, the one-term incumbent George Murphy, a former actor and song-and-dance guy whose age — he was once in his past due 60s — and well being have been problems. Mr. Murphy was once additionally harm by means of the revelation that whilst a senator he were paid $20,000 a yr as a public members of the family advisor for a film corporate.

Mr. Tunney’s victory margin in 1970 was once larger than that of Ronald Reagan, who was once re-elected California governor that yr. Soon, Mr. Tunney was once being discussed as a imaginable working mate of Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, who looked as if it would have the within observe for the Democratic nomination to run in opposition to President Richard M. Nixon in 1972. But Mr. Muskie’s marketing campaign flamed out early in 1972.

That summer time, Robert Redford starred in “The Candidate,” a movie in keeping with Mr. Tunney’s 1970 marketing campaign, and the senator nonetheless gave the impression to have a vivid long term.

In 1974, the unbiased California Poll confirmed him to be extra fashionable than Mr. Reagan, then in his remaining yr as governor. In 1975, Mr. Tunney led a a hit battle in the Senate to bring to an end budget for covert army operations by means of pro-American rebels in Angola. Mr. Tunney and like-minded lawmakers feared that involvement in Angola may just result in a Vietnam-like quagmire in Africa.

But many liberal Democrats have been disappointed with him. They idea he were too gradual to show in opposition to the Vietnam War, which he had supported early on, and so they have been upset by means of his refusal to include a boycott of California grapes by means of putting farm staff.

Liberals discovered a champion in Tom Hayden, the former campus radical, who challenged Mr. Tunney in the 1976 Senate Democratic number one. Mr. Hayden raised some huge cash and was once a shockingly efficient campaigner, accusing Mr. Tunney of being beholden to important industry, despite the fact that Mr. Tunney had supported antitrust law as a senator.

Mr. Hayden additionally sought to show Mr. Tunney’s friendship with Senator Edward M. Kennedy in opposition to him, calling Mr. Tunney “a Chappaquiddick waiting to happen,” a connection with the 1969 incident in which the political aide Mary Jo Kopechne died when the automobile in which she was once driving, pushed by means of Mr. Kennedy, plunged off a bridge connecting the island of Chappaquiddick to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.


Mr. Tunney, proper, with Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1980. They were roommates at the University of Virginia Law School in the 1950s.

Associated Press

Mr. Hayden later apologized for the commentary. But after completing a powerful 2d in the June number one, Mr. Hayden presented handiest the maximum tepid make stronger for Mr. Tunney in the normal election. And the Kennedy allusion, honest or now not, fanned proceedings that Mr. Tunney most popular the companionship of elite Easterners over the corporate of Californians.

In reality, Mr. Tunney was once a transplanted Californian, having had a privileged adolescence in the East. His father, the former heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney, learn broadly and aspired to social standing to move together with his ring riches. He completed it in 1928, when he married Polly Lauder, an heiress to the Carnegie metal fortune.

John Varick Tunney was once born on June 26, 1934, in New York City. He grew up in Connecticut together with his brothers, Jay, who survives him, and Gene, who’s deceased, and a sister, Joan, who could also be deceased. He studied anthropology at Yale, graduating in 1956. He attended the Hague Academy of International Law, labored on John F. Kennedy’s 1958 Senate marketing campaign in Massachusetts and roomed with Edward Kennedy at the University of Virginia Law School, graduating in 1959.

John Tunney later admitted to a definite immaturity and loss of objective till, round the time he was once in regulation faculty, he mentioned, “I suddenly became aware of the fact that this world was cold and cruel, and that people were indeed very, very hungry.”

He practiced regulation in short in New York City, then joined the Air Force as a pass judgement on recommend and was once stationed close to Riverside, Calif. He remained in California after leaving the carrier.

Six toes 3 inches tall and have compatibility in his top, John Tunney was once steadily described as good-looking (even though his bulging eyes and distinguished tooth had saddled him with the nickname “Horse” in prep faculty). He was once a much more enforcing bodily presence than his 1976 opponent, Dr. Hayakawa, who stood about Five-foot-Five and steadily sported a tam-o’-shanter.

But Dr. Hayakawa, a world-renowned semanticist, had a valuable second in the highlight from his previous. In 1968, when he was once president of San Francisco State College, he climbed onto a valid truck utilized by pupil protesters and yanked out the wires to the microphones. Long in a while, the symbol resonated with Californians bored to death with campus unrest.

On Nov. 2, 1976, Dr. Hayakawa gained about three.7 million votes to simply beneath three.Five million for Mr. Tunney, even supposing Democrats a ways outnumbered Republicans in California. Dr. Hayakawa was once aided by means of a powerful appearing by means of President Gerald R. Ford, who carried California in his loss to Jimmy Carter. The numbers additionally instructed that some former supporters of Tom Hayden had voted for Dr. Hayakawa simply to spite Mr. Tunney. (Dr. Hayakawa retired after one time period.)

“When you get into public life, you’ve got to be prepared to take your knocks,” Mr. Tunney mentioned after his defeat.

After leaving workplace, he practiced regulation, served on company forums and was once energetic in civic and cultural affairs. He loved snowboarding, fly-fishing, cycling, mountain climbing and commute together with his spouse, the former Kathinka Osborne, who were an Olympic skier from Sweden.

In addition to his spouse, he’s survived by means of their daughter, Tara; his sons, Mark and Edward; a daughter, Arianne, from his first marriage, to Mieke Sprengers, which ended in divorce; a stepson, Cedric Osborne; a stepdaughter, Dariane Hunt; and 3 grandchildren.

Mr. Tunney gave the impression content material to view politics from afar after 1976, even though he did seem at a 1980 Los Angeles fund-raiser for his outdated good friend Edward Kennedy in Mr. Kennedy’s unsuccessful presidential bid that yr. In 2003, Mr. Tunney joined two former Senate Democrats, George S. McGovern and Fred Harris, in opposing the struggle in Iraq.

In fresh years, Mr. Tunney had properties in Sun Valley, Idaho; New York City; and Los Angeles.

In a 2013 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Mr. Tunney mentioned he had just right reminiscences about his days in Washington, and he lamented the later “hostile” setting he noticed there. “It’s appalling what’s happening in Congress,” he mentioned, “that these men and women who are elected to get things done are not even able to get to the point of an up-or-down vote.”

Correction: January 12, 2018

An previous model of this obituary, the usage of wrong knowledge from the circle of relatives, misstated the location of John V. Tunney’s loss of life. He died in the Brentwood group of Los Angeles, now not in Santa Monica, Calif.

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