Biography and History

Blair Clark was a journalist and political activist who held many positions in both spheres. Ledyard Blair Clark was born in East Hampton, NY in 1917. He attended boarding school at St. Marks and received his bachelor's degree in 1940 from Harvard University, where he was editor and president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper.

While at Harvard he befriended classmate John F. Kennedy. The two would remain in touch throughout Kennedy's political career, and Clark and Jacqueline Kennedy would correspond for decades. Other notable people with whom Clark was close include poet Robert Lowell and journalist Theodore H. White.

Clark reported for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before serving in the Army from 1941 to 1946. He had several others journalistic posts prior to joining CBS News in Paris in 1953. From 1961 to 1964 Clark was general manager and vice president of CBS News. He was known for broadening the radio and television coverage of CBS News by hiring additional correspondents in the United States and abroad. He worked with Edward R. Murrow, and among those hired during his tenure were Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather.

After leaving CBS, Clark was associate publisher of the New York Post, editor of The Nation magazine, and a fellow of the New York Institute for Humanities at New York University. In the early 1960s he helped raise money for the formation of the New York Review of Books.

Following retirement from The Nation, Clark remained active by teaching at Princeton University and New York University, raising funds for Harvard, and holding board memberships at the National Committee for an Effective Congress and the Human SERVE voter registration group.

Politically, Clark was known as an avowed "left wing" Democrat. In 1968 he served as Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy's national campaign manager for the Democratic presidential nomination. Later Clark became treasurer of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of disaffected liberals from the 1968 election that tried unsuccessfully to foment a national movement. When the Watergate break-in occurred, Clark was serving as the Democratic National Committee's communications director.

His first marriage was to Jessie Holladay Philbin in 1942. Together they had a son, Timothy. They divorced in 1960 and Clark married Joanna Rostropowicz in 1971, with whom he had his second son, Ian. Joanna had a son, Tomasz Malinowski, from a previous marriage. Clark was predeceased by a son from his first marriage, Cameron.

Source: From the finding aid for MC195

  • Blair Clark Papers. 1921-1997 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC195

    Blair Clark was a journalist and political activist who held many positions in both spheres. His papers contain items related to his employment with CBS News, his role in the establishment of the Edward R. Murrow Chair at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and personal correspondence.

  • Blair Clark Papers. 1921-1997 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC195

    Blair Clark was a journalist and political activist who held many positions in both spheres. His papers contain items related to his employment with CBS News, his role in the establishment of the Edward R. Murrow Chair at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and personal correspondence.