Charles Manatt
Santo Domingo Mayor Johnny Ventura with US Amb to DR, Charles Manatt.jpg
Manatt in 2000
United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic
In office
December 17, 1999 – March 1, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded byDonna Hrinak
Succeeded byHans H. Hertell
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
In office
February 27, 1981 – February 1, 1985
Preceded byJohn C. White
Succeeded byPaul G. Kirk
Personal details
Born(1936-06-09)June 9, 1936
Chicago, Illinois
DiedJuly 22, 2011(2011-07-22) (aged 75)
Richmond, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseKathleen Manatt (m. 1957)
Children3 (Michele Anne, Timothy Taylor, Daniel Charles)
Alma materIowa State University
George Washington University Law School
OccupationLawyer, Politician

Charles Taylor Manatt (June 9, 1936 – July 22, 2011[1]) was a U.S. Democratic Party political figure. He was an American lawyer, politician and businessman.

Manatt was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1981 to 1985. In those years, he supervised and directed the 1984 Democratic National Convention. He was a delegate, sometimes categorized as a super delegate. He was the founder of the law firm Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips LLP, where his practice focused on international, administrative, and corporate law. He also served as ambassador to the Dominican Republic from 1999 to 2001. Manatt served until June 2008 as chairman of the board of trustees at George Washington University. His widow is Kathleen K. Manatt.

Manatt was a former chair of the board of directors of the International Foundation of Election Systems. He and his wife Kathleen established the Manatt Democracy Studies Fellowship Program in 1998.

Manatt died on July 22, 2011, at the age of 75.

Early life


Manatt was born on June 9, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois. Son of William Price Manatt, and Lucille Taylor Manatt, the younger of two boys alongside Richard P. Manatt. Although born in Chicago, he grew up in Audubon, Iowa, helping his father, a farmer, care for the family farm. His mother was a school teacher and later a homemaker. He attended elementary, middle and high school in Audubon. In his sophomore year, he began dating Kathy Klinkefus, who later became his wife.


In 1954, Manatt began studying at Iowa State College (later University) and was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. He and Kathy Klinkefus, who also attended Iowa State, graduated in early 1958. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Washington D.C., and he began studying at the George Washington University Law School, graduating in 1962.

Foundation of the law firm

In 1965, while living in Los Angeles, Manatt founded the Manatt law firm with his long-time friend and colleague Thomas Phelps, a banking and finance attorney. He began his legal career focusing on banking and financial services. In 1976, Mickey Kantor joined the firm and his name was added to the letterhead, until his departure in 1993. L. Lee Phillips, an entertainment lawyer, joined the firm in 1977, and became a named partner soon after. For its founding location, the firm headquarters are in Los Angeles. Over time, offices were opened in 8 different cities, primarily in California but also in New York and Washington D.C.

In 2007, the law firm was employing 380 attorneys. It was founded as a general practice and now incorporates litigation, corporate finance, entertainment, health care, real estate, advertising, and lobbying. Some of their notable clients are: in advertising, Coca Cola Company, and Yahoo!; In entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Eagles, and in consumer services, AT&T, Hilton Hotels Corporation, and Time Warner. Their internal revenue in 2007 was $242 million.

During his years in Los Angeles, Manatt served as president of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

National political life

In 1981, Manatt became the national chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and oversaw and executed the 1984 party convention, nominating former Vice President Walter Mondale of Minnesota for president, and New York congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro, making history as that marked the first time a woman was a major party nominee. The convention took place from July 16–19, 1984 in Moscone Center, San Francisco. The permanent chairman that year was Martha Layne Collins of Kentucky. Mondale was chosen on the first ballot. That year, the keynote speaker on the first evening of the convention was Governor Mario Cuomo of New York. Although the convention was considered a great success, the Mondale-Ferraro ticket could not get traction against the popularity of then-president and Republican Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush.

In 1987, he chaired Illinois Sen. Paul Simon's presidential campaign and co-chaired the Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 1992.[2]

Manatt served as ambassador to the Dominican Republic from 1999 to 2001, representing the government of President Bill Clinton.

Personal life

Manatt married Kathleen (Kathy) Klinkefus on December 29, 1957, in Audubon, Iowa. They then moved to Washington, D.C., where they had their first child, Michele. The family then moved to Los Angeles, where they had two boys, Timothy and Daniel. The family moved back to Washington D.C. in 1980 for Manatt's appointment as DNC Chair, while Michele was attending university, where the two boys attended and graduated from Sidwell Friends School. Manatt continued expanding the law firm, where it grew to have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., Orange County, California, Palo Alto, California, Sacramento, California, and Albany.

Later life

At the time of his death, Manatt resided in Washington, D.C., where he helped run and work at his law firm, and was engaged in numerous civic activities. He served on various boards of directors, including that of FedEx, the Mayo Clinic, and George Washington University. Manatt sat on the Council on American Politics, which brings together leaders from across the nation to address issues facing the growth and enrichment of the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University.

He had a granddaughter and grandson, Victoria, and Patrick, the children of his daughter Michele Manatt, a former U.S. State Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy official, and her husband Wolfram Anders, an international development investment professional. Their son Daniel, documentarian and founder of, has three children, Allison, Caitlin, and Charles Lucas.

Awards and honors

In 1983, Manatt was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree from Whittier College.[3]


Charles Manatt died at age 75 on the evening of July 22, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia, after prolonged illness and hospitalization.[4]


  1. ^ Shaila Dewan (July 23, 2011). "Charles Manatt, Former Democratic National Chairman, Dies at 75". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Charles Manatt, former DNC chair, dies at 75 - Mike Allen". Politico.Com. 23 July 2011. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  3. ^ "Honorary Degrees | Whittier College". Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  4. ^ Barabak, Mark (July 23, 2011). "Charles T. Manatt, Democratic Party leader and diplomat, dies at 75". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
Party political offices Preceded byJohn C. White Democratic National Committee Chairman 1981–1985 Succeeded byPaul G. Kirk Diplomatic posts Preceded byMari Carmen Aponte United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic 1999–2001 Succeeded byHans H. Hertell