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Frank J. Shakespeare

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Frank J. Shakespeare
2nd United States Ambassador to Holy See
In office
January 8, 1987 – July 28, 1989
Preceded byWilliam A. Wilson
Succeeded byThomas Patrick Melady
16th United States Ambassador to Portugal
In office
October 16, 1985 – October 4, 1986
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byH. Allen Holmes
Succeeded byEdward Morgan Rowell
Personal details
Born(1925-04-09)April 9, 1925
New York City, U.S.
DiedDecember 14, 2022(2022-12-14) (aged 97)
Deerfield, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationCollege of the Holy Cross (BS)
OccupationDiplomat, business executive

Francis Joseph Shakespeare (April 9, 1925 – December 14, 2022) was an American diplomat, political consultant and media executive. He was the president of CBS before entering public service. He served as the United States ambassador to Portugal from 1985 to 1986 and the United States ambassador to the Holy See from 1986 to 1989. He later served as an honorary member of the board of trustees for The Heritage Foundation.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in New York City to Francis and Frances (née Hughes) Shakespeare on April 9, 1925,[1] and raised in the Catholic faith, Shakespeare graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science.[2] He also served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1946.[1]


Shakespeare (left) with Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan in 1987 at the Apostolic Palace

Shakespeare was vice president of CBS in New York City from 1963 to 1965, then executive vice president from 1965 to 1967,[3] when he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as director of the United States Information Agency.[4] After serving in this capacity from 1969-1973, he returned to the private sector as executive vice president of Westinghouse in New York. In 1975 he became vice chairman of RKO General.[5]

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan named him chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting,[6] the entity which oversaw the operations of Radio Free Europe. He held this position until 1985, when Reagan appointed him United States Ambassador to Portugal.[5] The following year, in September 1986, Shakespeare was appointed United States Ambassador to the Holy See.[7][8]

From 1979, Shakespeare was an honorary member of the board of trustees for The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.–based public policy research institute.[9] He also served as a trustee of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[9]


Shakespeare was awarded honorary degrees in engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1975, in commercial science from Pace University in 1979, and in law from Sacred Heart University in 1985.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Shakespeare was divorced and had one son and two daughters.[10] He served the Catholic Church as a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.[11] He died on December 14, 2022, at age 97.[1][12][13]


  1. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (December 16, 2022). "Frank Shakespeare, TV Executive Behind a New Nixon, Dies at 97". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  2. ^ "Nomination of Frank Shakespeare To Be a Member of the Board for International Broadcasting, and Designation as Chairman". Public Papers of the Presidents. June 26, 1981.
  3. ^ "A Well-Earned Curtain Call for Frank J. Shakespeare". National Review. December 18, 2022. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  4. ^ "A New Spokesman for the U.S.; Frank Joseph Shakespeare Jr". The New York Times. January 14, 1969. p. 1.
  5. ^ a b c "United States Ambassador to Portugal". National Catholic Reporter. July 24, 1985.
  6. ^ "Reagan Chooses EX-U.S.I.A. Head". The New York Times. May 16, 1981.
  7. ^ King, Wayne; Weaver, Warren Jr (July 30, 1986). "New Vatican Envoy". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Nomination of Frank Shakespeare To Be United States Ambassador to the Holy See". Public Papers of the Presidents. September 26, 1986. Archived from the original on August 22, 2017. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Board of Trustees". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  10. ^ Murphy, Brian (December 17, 2022). "Frank Shakespeare, Nixon's TV guru who redefined political ads, dies at 97". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  11. ^ "During the Cold War, Frank Shakespeare was a bard for liberty". Restoring America. December 16, 2022. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  12. ^ "Heritage Mourns Loss of Ambassador Frank Shakespeare". Heritage. December 14, 2022. Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  13. ^ Hillyer, Quin (December 16, 2022). "During the Cold War, Frank Shakespeare was a bard for liberty". Washington Examiner.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by U. S. Ambassador to Portugal
Succeeded by
Preceded by U. S. Ambassador to the Holy See
Succeeded by