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Marshall Frady, 64; Journalist on Civil Rights

March 10, 2004|From Associated Press

Marshall Frady, a civil rights reporter and award-winning television journalist who wrote a controversial biography of George Wallace, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Greenville, S.C., according to his wife, Barbara Gandolfo-Frady. He was 64.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Frady frequently interviewed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. His stories appeared in Newsweek, the Saturday Evening Post and Life magazine.

"He had a keen and distinctive mind and had a tremendous capacity to paint a picture with words," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a close friend. Jackson will preside over a memorial service Friday at the Rowland Funeral Home in North Augusta, S.C.

"We were both from the South and had this experience growing up in a segregated culture," Jackson told the Associated Press. "So we both made inquiries into each other's side of town, and we came to know each other quite well."

Frady was chief correspondent for "ABC News Close Up" from 1979-86, winning an Emmy in 1982 for "Soldiers of the Twilight," a documentary about mercenaries. He was a commentator for "Nightline" and wrote for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and Esquire.

Frady's books included "Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey," and biographies of King, Jackson and the Rev. Billy Graham.

Some of his journalism was included in a recent Library of America compilation of civil rights reporting.

His best-known book was "Wallace," published in 1968, when the former Alabama governor was a third-party candidate for president. Frady had met Wallace two years earlier and originally planned a novel about a Southern politician. But after spending months around Wallace and his supporters, he decided to write nonfiction.

The book's discussion of Wallace's segregationist past, including extensive direct quotations, led the former governor to threaten legal action. The book's cover was also controversial: a drawing of Wallace with a chin cleft that resembled a swastika. A native of Augusta, Ga., Frady earned his bachelor's degree at Furman University and studied at the University of Iowa.

Before falling ill, Frady was writing a biography of Fidel Castro, according to his editor at Simon & Schuster, Ruth Fecych.

In addition to his wife, Frady is survived by three children from previous marriages -- Katrina, Carson and Shannon. He was married four times.

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