Best Known For
Arlen Specter was Philadelphia District Attorney and was elected to the senate five times. He helped initiate the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Arlen Specter was born on February 12, 1930, in Wichita, Kansas. He was Philadelphia District Attorney from 1965 to 1974. He won a senate seat in 1979, and was re-elected in 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004. In 1995, he announced his presidential candidacy, but suspended his campaign. Specter helped initiate the 2005 reauthorization of the Patriot Act. He died on October 14, 2012, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Born on February 12, 1930, in Wichita, Kansas, Arlen Specter was the youngest child of Russian immigrants Lillie Shanin and Harry Specter. Specter's mother was a homemaker, and his father was a former WWI vet who -- after sustaining injuries during combat -- returned to the United States to work odd jobs as a fruit peddler, tailor and junkyard owner.
Specter studied first at the University of Oklahoma. He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He majored in international relations, and graduated in 1951. After receiving his bachelor's degree, Specter enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving from 1951 to 1953. He served during the Korean War.
After returning home to the United States, Specter began studying law at Yale University, where he graduated in 1956. That same year, he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and opened the Specter & Katz law practice with colleague Marvin Katz, who later became a Federal District Court Judge in Philadelphia. From 1959 to 1964, Specter worked as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, under District Attorney James Crumlish.
In 1964, Specter became a top staffer for the Warren Commission, where he investigated President John F. Kennedy's assassination. It was during this time that Specter helped develop the "single-bullet theory," which suggested that President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were wounded by the same bullet. This was a crucial theory for the Warren Commission; injuries from separate bullets would have meant more than one assassin, and imply a conspiracy.
A registered Democrat, Specter ran for Philadelphia District Attorney in 1965 on the Republican ticket. He beat out his former boss, James Crumlish, for the position and subsequently changed his registration to Republican. He served as the D.A. until 1974.
In 1975, Specter resumed his law practice and attempted two runs for a Republican seat in the Senate. Both campaigns failed. He returned to his law practice, and was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1979. That same year, Senate Republican Richard Schweiker announced his retirement. Seizing the opportunity, Specter ran a third time for a seat in the Senate. He faced former Pittsburgh Mayor Peter F. Flaherty in the race. Specter won the election by a narrow 2.5 percent margin.
Specter was re-elected for his Senate seat in 1986, and again in 1992. On March 31, 1995, he announced his candidacy for the United States presidency, running as a moderate against incumbent President Bill Clinton.
profile name: Arlen Specter profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
A good party always has some surprises—and that goes for political parties, too. Though the United States has had a two-party system for most of its history, party loyalty is not always written in stone. Over the years many politicians have switched sides, for ideological, political, and strategic reasons. Here are some of the politicians who have crossed to the other side of the aisle.
Political Party Crashers 22 people in this group
Famous Aquarians 552 people in this group
Famous Lawyers 140 people in this group