G. Gordon Liddy, the colorful chief operative in the Watergate scandal who went to prison for his crimes and later cut a wide swatch across pop culture as a talk show host and actor, has died. He was 90.
His son, Thomas P. Liddy, confirmed his death to the Washington Post, but did not provide a cause.
Liddy held many roles during his lifetime, including as a lawyer, FBI agent, talk show host and actor. However, he is best known as the chief operative in the Nixon administration’s White House Plumbers unit, which organized and carried out a burglary of the DNC headquarters in the Watergate building. The scandal rocked American politics and led to Nixon’s resignation from the presidency in 1974. Liddy was ultimately convicted of conspiracy, burglary, illegal wiretapping and refused to testify during the Senate committee hearing on the scandal. As a result, Liddy served over four years in prison.
After Liddy was released from prison, he published an autobiography, “Will,” that was made into a TV movie, in which he was portrayed by Robert Conrad. In the 1990s, he became a radio talkshow host, with a syndicated show that ran until 2012.
He made guest appearances on shows including “Miami Vice,” “Airwolf,” “MacGyver” and “The Highwayman.” Liddy was played by William Daniels in the 1979 TV adaptation of John Dean’s “Blind Ambition,” and by John Diehl in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon.” He also competed on the celebrity edition of “Fear Factor,” judged “Wrestlemania II’ and appeared in films such as “Street Asylum” and “Feds.”
Comic book writer Alan Moore has said that the character of the Comedian in “Watchmen” was a “G. Gordon Liddy type,” and he was also immortalized by Steely Dan as prosecutor “Daddy G” in the song “My Old School.”
One of Liddy’s most surreal pop culture stunts came in the early 1980s when for a time he toured college campuses and made TV appearances debating politics and policy with Moon Unit Zappa, daughter of legendary musician Frank Zappa, in a conversative vs. liberal format. The pair were featured in a November 1982 episode of NBC’s “Twilight Theater II,” a news-of-the-weird clip show that aired monthly in “Saturday Night Live’s” slot.
Liddy is survived by five children and 12 grandchildren. His wife, Frances Liddy, died in 2010.