Larry Speakes, White House spokesman under Ronald Reagan, dies

Story highlights

  • Larry Speakes, 74, was the White House spokesman under Reagan from 1981 to 1987
  • Speakes was named acting press secretary after James Brady was shot
  • Speakes died at his Cleveland, Mississippi, home following a lengthy illness, the coroner says
  • Speakes is survived by a daughter and two sons

Larry Speakes, who served as the acting White House press secretary under President Ronald Reagan, died Friday morning at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, the Bolivar County coroner said. He was 74, coroner Nate Brown said.

Speakes took over the duties as acting White House press secretary after James Brady, the press secretary, was shot during an assassination attempt on Reagan on March 30,1981.

He chronicled his experience in the 1987 book "Speaking Out: The Reagan Presidency from Inside the White House."

Speakes was born in Cleveland, Mississippi, on September 13, 1939, according to Current Biography. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1961, and then went to work for the Oxford Eagle newspaper, according to the biography.

In 1968, he was hired as press secretary to Sen. James Eastland, the then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Larry Speakes chronicled his experience in "Speaking Out: The Reagan Presidency from Inside the White House."

Speakes went to work in the Nixon White House in May 1974, where he was eventually assigned as press secretary for the special counsel to President Richard Nixon during the Watergate hearings, according to the biography.

Brady hired Speakes as his deputy press secretary in 1981. Just two months into the job, Speakes was named acting press secretary after Brady was shot by John Hinckley Jr. He served in the role until 1987.

Speakes is survived by a daughter and two sons, Brown said.

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