John V. Tunney, Boxer’s Son Who Lasted One Term inside the Senate, Dies at 83

In 1970, when he was 36, Mr. Tunney ran for the Senate. He was blessed having a weak Republican opponent, the one-term incumbent George Murphy, a former actor as well as song-as well as-dance man whose age — he was in his late 60s — as well as health were issues. Mr. Murphy was also hurt by the revelation which while a senator he had been paid $20,000 a year as a public relations consultant for a movie company.

Mr. Tunney’s victory margin in 1970 was bigger than which of Ronald Reagan, who was re-elected California governor which year. Soon, Mr. Tunney was being mentioned as a possible running mate of Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, who seemed to contain the inside track for the Democratic nomination to run against President Richard M. Nixon in 1972. however Mr. Muskie’s campaign flamed out early in 1972.

which summer, Robert Redford starred in “The Candidate,” a film based on Mr. Tunney’s 1970 campaign, as well as the senator still appeared to have a bright future.

In 1974, the independent California Poll showed him to be more well-liked than Mr. Reagan, then in his last year as governor. In 1975, Mr. Tunney led a successful fight inside the Senate to cut off funds for covert military operations by pro-American rebels in Angola. Mr. Tunney as well as like-minded lawmakers feared which involvement in Angola could lead to a Vietnam-like quagmire in Africa.

however many liberal Democrats were disenchanted with him. They thought he had been too slow to turn against the Vietnam War, which he had supported early on, as well as they were disappointed by his refusal to embrace a boycott of California grapes by striking farm workers.

Liberals found a champion in Tom Hayden, the former campus radical, who challenged Mr. Tunney inside the 1976 Senate Democratic primary. Mr. Hayden raised a lot of money as well as was a surprisingly effective campaigner, accusing Mr. Tunney of being beholden to big business, though Mr. Tunney had supported antitrust legislation as a senator.

Mr. Hayden also sought to turn Mr. Tunney’s friendship with Senator Edward M. Kennedy against him, calling Mr. Tunney “a Chappaquiddick waiting to happen,” a reference to the 1969 incident in which the political aide Mary Jo Kopechne died when the automobile in which she was riding, driven by Mr. Kennedy, plunged off a bridge connecting the island of Chappaquiddick to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.


Mr. Tunney, right, with Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1980. They had been roommates at the University of Virginia Law School inside the 1950s.

Associated Press

Mr. Hayden later apologized for the remark. however after finishing a strong second inside the June primary, Mr. Hayden offered only the most tepid support for Mr. Tunney inside the general election. as well as the Kennedy allusion, fair or not, fanned complaints which Mr. Tunney preferred the companionship of elite Easterners over the company of Californians.

In fact, Mr. Tunney was a transplanted Californian, having had a privileged childhood inside the East. His father, the former heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney, read widely as well as aspired to social status to go with his ring riches. He achieved which in 1928, when he married Polly Lauder, an heiress to the Carnegie steel fortune.

John Varick Tunney was born on June 26, 1934, in completely new York City. He grew up in Connecticut with his brothers, Jay as well as Gene, who can be deceased, as well as a sister, Joan, who can be also deceased. He studied anthropology at Yale, graduating in 1956. He attended the Hague Academy of International Law, worked on John F. Kennedy’s 1958 Senate campaign in Massachusetts as well as roomed with Edward Kennedy at the University of Virginia Law School, graduating in 1959.

John Tunney later admitted to a certain immaturity as well as lack of purpose until, around the time he was in law school, he said, “I suddenly became aware of the fact which which world was cold as well as cruel, as well as which people were indeed very, very hungry.”

He practiced law briefly in completely new York City, then joined the Air Force as a judge advocate as well as was stationed near Riverside, Calif. He remained in California after leaving the service.

Six feet three inches tall as well as fit in his prime, John Tunney was often described as handsome (although his bulging eyes as well as prominent teeth had saddled him with the nickname “Horse” in prep school). He was a far more imposing physical presence than his 1976 opponent, Dr. Hayakawa, who stood about 5-foot-5 as well as often sported a tam-o’-shanter.

however Dr. Hayakawa, a world-renowned semanticist, had a priceless moment inside the spotlight by his past. In 1968, when he was president of San Francisco State College, he climbed onto a sound truck used by student protesters as well as yanked out the wires to the microphones. Long afterward, the image resonated with Californians fed up with campus unrest.

On Nov. 2, 1976, Dr. Hayakawa received about 3.7 million votes to just under 3.5 million for Mr. Tunney, even though Democrats far outnumbered Republicans in California. Dr. Hayakawa was aided by a strong showing by President Gerald R. Ford, who carried California in his loss to Jimmy Carter. The numbers also suggested which some former supporters of Tom Hayden had voted for Dr. Hayakawa just to spite Mr. Tunney. (Dr. Hayakawa retired after one term.)

“When you get into public life, you’ve got to be prepared to take your knocks,” Mr. Tunney said after his defeat.

After leaving office, he practiced law, served on corporate boards as well as was active in civic as well as cultural affairs. He enjoyed skiing, fly-fishing, biking, hiking as well as travel with his wife, the former Kathinka Osborne, who had been an Olympic skier by Sweden.

In addition to his brother Jay, he can be survived by his wife; their daughter, Tara; his sons, Mark as well as Edward; a daughter, Arianne, by his first marriage, to Mieke Sprengers, which ended in divorce; a stepson, Cedric Osborne; a stepdaughter, Dariane Hunt; as well as three grandchildren.

Mr. Tunney seemed content to view politics by afar after 1976, although he did appear at a 1980 Los Angeles fund-raiser for his old friend Edward Kennedy in Mr. Kennedy’s unsuccessful presidential bid which year. In 2003, Mr. Tunney joined two former Senate Democrats, George S. McGovern as well as Fred Harris, in opposing the war in Iraq.

In recent years, Mr. Tunney had homes in Sun Valley, Idaho; completely new York City; as well as Los Angeles.

In a 2013 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Mr. Tunney said he had not bad memories about his days in Washington, as well as he lamented the later “hostile” atmosphere he saw there. “which’s appalling what’s happening in Congress,” he said, “which these men as well as women who are elected to get things done are not even able to get to the point of an up-or-down vote.”

Correction: January 12, 2018

An earlier variation of which obituary, using incorrect information by the family, misstated the location of John V. Tunney’s death. He died inside the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, not in Santa Monica, Calif.

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