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Former US Information Agency Director Charles Wick Dies


Charles Wick, who directed U.S. public diplomacy under President Ronald Reagan, has died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 90.

Wick was a Hollywood entrepreneur when he met Mr. Reagan in 1959. He became a member of the so-called "kitchen cabinet" that financed the former actor's first run for governor of California in 1966 and his 1980 presidential campaign.

He was rewarded with an appointment as director of the U.S. Information Agency, which oversaw U.S. government public diplomacy efforts and the Voice of America until 1999. He headed the agency from 1981 to 1989.

Under his leadership, the agency launched the first live global satellite television network, WorldNet, as well as Radio Marti, a Spanish language broadcast to Cuba.

After martial law was declared in Poland, he conceived the Let Poland be Poland telecast, a glitzy production that aired in 1982 and featured entertainment notables including Frank Sinatra and Charlton Heston.

Wick's efforts at USIA were often criticized for being heavily propagandistic.

Former Secretary of State George Shultz said in a statement that Wick was "magnificent" in letting the world know about "Ronald Reagan's America."

In 1984, Wick came under fire when it was revealed that the USIA kept a list of 84 prominent people that were barred from agency-sponsored speaking engagements overseas. He denied any involvement, saying that a blacklist was "un-American."

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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