Benjamin C. Bradlee, who served as the executive editor of The Washington Post from 1968-1991, has died, the publication announced on Tuesday. He was 93.
He died Tuesday in his Washington home of natural causes. Bradlee has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the past few years.
The journalist was immortalized in “All the President’s Men,” as Jason Robards Jr. won an Academy Award for portraying him in the 1976 film.
Bradlee served as executive editor of the Post during the Watergate years — defying the Nixon administration by releasing the Pentagon Papers — and led the paper’s thorough coverage of the scandal that lead to President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. The Post called Bradlee’s decision to run the Papers his most important decision. The newspaper also received 17 Pulitzer Prizes under his tenure.
“All the President’s Men” chronicled the scandal and the paper’s involvement. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford also starred as reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, respectively. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best picture.
The Boston native graduated from Harvard and served in the U.S. Navy, serving in the South Pacific. He would go on to work for Newsweek, reporting first in post-war Paris and then in Washington D.C. In 1965, he was named managing editor of The Post, and was upped to executive editor in 1968. He would hold the position until his retirement in September 1991.
President Obama presented Bradlee with the Medal of Freedom last year. In addition to his other accolades, Bradlee received the French Legion of Honor in 2007.
” For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession – it was a public good vital to our democracy,” Obama said in a statement. “A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told – stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better. The standard he set – a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting – encouraged so many others to enter the profession. And that standard is why, last year, I was proud to honor Ben with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, we offer our thoughts and prayers to Ben’s family, and all who were fortunate to share in what truly was a good life.”
His wife, Sally Quinn, said in a recent C-SPAN interview that Bradlee’s health was declining, and that she held her ability to take care of him “sacred.”