Livingston L. Biddle Jr., who wrote the legislation that led to the creation of the National Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts and who was chairman of the endowment 1977-81, died May 3 in Washington, D.C. He was 83 and had been in failing health with heart problems.
Biddle drafted the arts legislation in the early 190s while working for Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), his prep school and Princeton U. friend. In 1966-67, he was deputy to the endowment’s first chairman, Roger L. Stevens.
He was chairman of the arts division at Fordham U. 1968-70 and the following two years was chairman of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. After again working for Pell, he was named chairman of the endowment in 1977 by President Carter. By the end of his four-year term, he managed to save much of the endowment’s financing from budget cuts advocated by President Reagan.
Bryn Mawr, Pa., native was a member of the storied Philadelphia family that included William Biddle, a friend of William Penn; Nicholas Biddle, founder of the Second Bank of the United States; and Francis Biddle, attorney general under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He wrote four novels and a nonfiction book, “Our Government and the Arts.”
Mr. Biddle’s first wife died in 1972. Surviving are his second wife, the former Catharina Baart, a painter; a daughter and a son and five grandchildren.