Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney, who championed environmental protection and civil rights during his one term in office, has died. He was 83.
Tunney died of prostate cancer Friday at a home in Brentwood, his brother Jay Tunney told the Los Angeles Times.
He was elected to the Senate in 1970 as age 36, defeating Republican incumbent George Murphy, then lost a bid for-relection to educator-activcist S.I. Hayakawa in 1976. During his six-year term, Tunney authored 38 bills that became law, including a 1975 extension of the Voting Rights Act.
Tunney, who was widely credited as the inspiration for the 1972 Robert Redford film “The Candidate,” never again ran for office following his defeat. He instead practiced law in Century City and served as a commentator on KABC-TV Channel 7. In later years, he divided his time between California, Idaho and New York.
Tunney was born in New York City on June 26, 1934, a son of Gene Tunney, boxing’s world heavyweight champion from 1926 to 1928.
He graduated from Yale University in 1956 and the University of Virginia’s law school in 1959.
Tunney joined the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate, rising to the rank of captain before he was discharged in 1963.
He taught business law at UC Riverside in 1961 and 1962 and was a special adviser to the President’s Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime from 1963 to 1968.
A Democrat, Tunney was elected to Congress in 1964 from a Riverside County district, defeating Republican incumbent Patrick Martin. He as re- elected in 1966 and 1968.
Besides his brother, Tunney is survived by his wife, Kathinka Osborne, two sons, Mark and Ted; two daughters, Arianne and Tara; two stepchildren and three grandsons.
—City News Service
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