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Roberto Maidana, 79, journalist

TV newsman interviewed Kennedy, Castro

Argentine journalist Roberto Maidana, who interviewed the likes of John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Indira Gandhi for TV news programs over a career spanning a half a century, died Aug. 11 of pneumonia in Buenos Aires. He was 79.

Abandoning law school, Maidana made his start in 1950 as a radio news editor and reader in Buenos Aires. A year later, he wrote the news for Argentina’s first TV broadcast.

In his early days, he worked as a sports reporter, covering big events like soccer’s 1962 World Cup in Chile.

In 1962, broadcaster Artear-Canal 13 picked him up for Telenoche, a newscast still on the air. He thrived in international coverage, using his fluency in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and his native Spanish to interview Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat, Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir and Federico Fellini, as well as Brazilian soccer great Pele and Muhammad Ali.

Sagacious and witty, he had a knack for getting stories. He camped out in front of a Parisian apartment for more than a day to interview Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. He donned the shirt of Estudiantes to get in to the locker room to interview players after the Argentine soccer team beat Manchester United for the Intercontinental Cup in 1968.

In 1983, Maidana shifted to pubcaster ATC (now Canal 7), rising to news manager within months only to lose the job over an interview with Ramon Camps, an Argentine general who committed multiple kidnappings, murders, tortures and rapes during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

He later worked on news programs for broadcaster America TV and cable news net CVN.

He is survived by two children.

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