Frederick Gary Dutton, 82, a Washington power broker
who for 40 years was an adviser to the Kennedy family and
the Saudi royal family, died June 25 at George Washington
University Hospital of complications from a stroke.
Mr. Dutton had been the Washington liaison and
consultant for Saudi Arabia since 1975 and was widely
credited with engineering the come-from-behind congressional
approval of two major arms sales to the kingdom -- the 1978
sale of F-15 fighters and the 1981 sale of radar planes.
Dubbed a "master power broker" by the Wall Street
Journal and a "keen student of politics" by a New York Times
correspondent, Mr. Dutton had both political credibility
from his years in Democratic politics and social credibility
from years spent wooing the press.
Since arriving in Washington in 1961 as an aide to
President John F. Kennedy, Mr. Dutton had a knack for
finding ways to exercise influence. He was Kennedy's
secretary of the Cabinet and served later as assistant
secretary of state for congressional relations under Kennedy
and President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the de facto
campaign manager for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's presidential
bid and was at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968 when the senator
was fatally shot. Mr. Dutton muscled his way into the
ambulance to ride to the hospital with the senator and Ethel
He worked on the presidential campaigns of Hubert
H. Humphrey in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. He was an
adviser to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and an
impresario of spin. As an adviser to Mobil Oil in the early
1970s, he suggested that the company buy an ad on newspaper
op-ed pages to argue a single topic. Mobil vice president
Herb Schmertz took the advice, and the corporate advertorial
was born. Mr. Dutton had a brief career as a talking head,
paired with John Sears on the old "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour"
A balding, pixie-ish, poker-playing rogue, Mr.
Dutton was born in Julesburg, Colo., and moved to California
as a youth. During World War II, he served in the Army
infantry and was wounded and taken prisoner during the
Battle of the Bulge. He was later awarded a Purple Heart and
a Bronze Star. He served in the Judge Advocate General's
Corps during the Korean War, stationed in Japan.
Mr. Dutton graduated from the University of
California at Berkeley and received a law degree from
Stanford University in 1949. He was on the first editorial
board of the Stanford Law Review with Warren M. Christopher,
who became President Bill Clinton's secretary of state, and
Shirley M. Hufstedler, President Jimmy Carter's secretary of
His political career began as Southern California
campaign manager for Adlai Stevenson's 1956 presidential
campaign. Afterwards, he signed on with Edmund G. "Pat"
Brown's campaign for governor and later served as his chief
Mr. Dutton was a member of the California
university system's board of regents from 1962 to 1978.
In 1962, as a presidential aide, he described
himself as "Typhoid Mary, carrying germs of ideas and
outlooks back and forth between the State Department and
He was in charge of the platform committee at the
1964 Democratic National Convention, coordinator of the John
F. Kennedy Library and founding director of the Robert F.
Kennedy Memorial Foundation and served on the Democratic
National Committee's McGovern Commission from 1969 to 1972,
which resulted in the reform of the delegate selection
process. His role in increasing the number of female
delegates led feminist Betty Friedan to call him the "Papa
Bear of the women's liberation movement," said Nancy Dutton,
his wife and law firm partner.
Although he was once described as "Fred of Arabia,"
his work as a lobbyist involved much behind-the-scenes work
as a "force multiplier" who paved the way for others to take
the stage. He brought media personalities into social
contact with politicians at dinner parties that his wife
insisted were simply gatherings of friends but that are as
much a part of the capital city's unwritten rules of
influence as the power lunch.
"I like to keep things on a social level," Mr.
Dutton said of one of his soirees.
When quoted in print, he played down the work of
lobbying and observations that he was as much a political
strategist as an aide to elected officials.
"When you get right down to it, we're just pimples
on the process," he told The Washington Post in 1983. "So
much of lobbying is just blue smoke and mirrors. One of the
phoniest parts of the whole business is the extent to which
the Washington office exists simply to feed the corporate
vice president back home a steady diet of the insider
Washington gossip. You're a bigger man on Fifth Avenue or
out on Main Street if you can make a grand processional into
His marriage to June Kingborg ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, of Washington; three
children from his first marriage, Christopher Dutton of San
Anselmo, Calif., Lisa Dutton of Los Angeles and Eve Dutton
of San Carlos, Calif.; two daughters from his second
marriage, Stacy Dutton of Philadelphia and Christina Dutton
of Washington; and seven grandchildren.