Director Michael Ritchie worked on Tunney’s campaign, and the story of competing generations and the machinations of elections was perfect fodder for the political-minded Hollywood of the day.
Gene Tunney was insistent that his sons pursue professions other than boxing.
Tunney was elected to the U.S. House, where he served from 1964 until his Senate election in 1970.
Redford took on the role of Bill McKay, based on Tunney. The film was a commercial and critical success, winning an Academy Award for screenwriter Jeremy Larner.
This story has been corrected to show Tunney died in Los Angeles, not Santa Monica, California.
In 1976, he was challenged on the left by political activist Tom Hayden, but won re-nomination.
Tunney was among the youngest people elected to the U.S. Senate in the past century when he won his seat in 1970 at age 36. He then became one of the youngest in recent history to lose a Senate seat when he was defeated after just one term.