NEW YORK — Marilyn Klinghoffer, whose husband was murdered by Palestinian hijackers on the cruise ship Achille Lauro and who later became active in the fight against terrorism, died Sunday of cancer at age 58.
Mrs. Klinghoffer was lauded by many when she told President Reagan that she had spat in the faces of the terrorists when she identified them for authorities in Italy.
"God bless you," Reagan replied, according to Letty Simon, a family spokeswoman.
In celebration of their 36th wedding anniversary in October, Mrs. Klinghoffer and her husband, Leon, who were Jewish, joined nine friends from the New York area for a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Achille Lauro.
The Italian ship was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists Oct. 7, and Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old appliance manufacturer who had suffered a stroke 10 years before and was confined to a wheelchair, was shot and his body tossed into the sea.
The passengers were later freed. Four terrorists were captured after the United States intercepted an Egyptian plane taking them to freedom. They were turned over to Italy, where they were convicted on weapons charges and are awaiting trial for murder and hijacking.