British-born Tony Blankley (1948-2012) became well-known as press secretary to then-Congressman Newt Gingrich, a conservative member of the U.S. House of Representatives credited with engineering the Republican resurgence during the early 1990s that climaxed with that party’s ascent to the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years. When the 1994 elections resulted in Republican control of that chamber of Congress, Gingrich was elected by his party caucus to the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, one of the most powerful positions in the country, and third in line to the presidency. As the abrasive Gingrich’s press secretary, Blankley was frequently in the public eye, and his and his employer’s strong conservatism and occasionally acerbic demeanors soon clashed with the newly-defeated liberal Democrats and with liberal members of the media.
Following his departure from Capitol Hill, Blankley became a regular columnist for the conservative Washington Times newspaper as well as a panelist on The McLaughlin Group, the political roundtable talk show that has run for several decades. Blankley died of stomach cancer on January 7, 2012. A former child actor, he was comfortable around the media and often used humor to humanize his employer, Gingrich, to the public.