Morton Downey, Jr

Died March 12, 2001

Tuesday March 13 2:15 PM ET

TV Host Morton Downey Jr. Dies of Lung Cancer

By Arthur Spiegelman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Morton Downey Jr., the loud-mouthed, deliberately irritating television talk show host who called his guests ``slimeballs'' and blew smoke in their faces, has died of lung cancer at age 67, his family said on Tuesday.

Downey, the son of popular tenor Morton Downey Sr. and actress Barbara Bennett, and who was raised next door to the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., died on Monday in Los Angeles.

He was about as contradictory a human being as one could meet, according to those who knew him well.

On ``The Morton Downey Jr. Show,'' broadcast from 1987 to 1989, the onetime political science teacher at Notre Dame and winner of an award from Pope Paul VI for his work on behalf of refugees, would rip into guests and audience members, calling them ``slimeballs,'' ``scumbuckets'' and liberal ``pablum pukers.''

``Mort the Mouth,'' as he was called, once wrapped an American flag across his bottom and demanded that his Iranian guest kiss it.

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