Charles A. Halleck, who served two terms as majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and came to even greater national prominence as the co-host of the political "Ev and Charlie Show" on television, died Monday in St. Elizabeth Hospital here. He was 85 and served as an Indiana congressman 33 years.
Halleck, known across the nation during the 1960s when he teamed with his Republican counterpart in the Senate, Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, for the political telecasts, knew the heights of power and the depths of defeat during his long political career.
When he delivered the Indiana Republican delegation to Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 convention, he thought it was in return for the vice presidential nomination. But Dewey picked Gov. Earl Warren of California, who went on to become chief justice of the United States.
"My trouble was, I believed what people told me," Halleck said of what he thought was a promise at that convention.
Never Became Speaker
He went on to a long career of leadership in the House but never realized his goal of becoming Speaker.
Halleck led his party in the House for nearly 20 years but was finally unseated as Republican leader by Gerald R. Ford of Michigan in a 1965 leadership battle, and it was Ford who went from that position to become the nation's first non-elected president. Halleck retired three years after losing his leadership post.
"I knew my race had been run," Halleck said of that loss of leadership. "The chance to be Speaker of the House would not come in my effective time."
Halleck was majority leader from 1946-48 and 1952-54. After that he was minority leader until 1965.
'Ev and Charlie Show'
He and Dirksen held regular joint press conferences, usually to attack the statements and policies emanating from the White House under Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. These televised affairs came to be known colloquially as "The Ev and Charlie Show."
Halleck was born in DeMotte, Ind., Aug. 22, 1900, and made his home for most of his life at Rensselaer, less than 50 miles from his birthplace. When he retired in 1968, he returned to Rensselaer to practice law and go hunting and fishing.
The death of his wife, Blanche, during a fishing trip in Montana in 1973 was a tragedy from which Halleck never fully recovered.
"I can't help looking back on losing Mommie out there," he said. Mrs. Halleck suffered a heart seizure.
As a tribute to his lengthy service, the federal building here was named for him in 1983.
A son, daughter and nine grandchildren survive.