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'Face Of Reagan Era' Larry Speakes Passes Away

Eric Parra |
January 11, 2014 | 6:26 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

Larry Speakes was known for his blunt tone when talking to reporters (wikimedia/creative commons)
Larry Speakes was known for his blunt tone when talking to reporters (wikimedia/creative commons)
While the Reagan era has lived on for many years in the memory of others, the “Public Face of the Reagan Era” has passed with the death of former White House press secretary, Larry Speakes.

Speakes served as the acting press secretary from 1981 to 1987 in the stead of secretary James Brady after Brady took a bullet wound aimed at then President Reagan.

From NY Times

“A Southerner who started many days in his White House office by listening to Mozart for what he said was its calming influence, Mr. Speakes served as acting White House press secretary from 1981 to 1987, parrying the increasingly adversarial queries from the press along the way. His nickname among friends was “the Mississippi catfish,” a fish that stings when mishandled.

He worked in the West Wing in a pre-Internet era, when the tense exchanges with reporters took place twice a day and deadlines were geared toward the morning papers and the networks’ nightly news programs. He was regarded as having a straightforward but sometimes acerbic style by journalists who bristled at the administration’s attempts to manage the news.”

Speakes was also recognized on his own for a memoir of his time as the President’s secretary. In it, he detailed quotes that were wrongly credited to have been said by Reagan . Speakes resigned from his job as secretary after the release of the memoir, a book called “Speaking Out,” and later spoke about having “wronged President Reagan” and how “the truth never requires apology.”

In retaliation from members of administration, Speakes' book also cost him his Vice President position at Merrill Lynch.

Speakes died at age 74 in his home of Cleveland, Mississippi.

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