Gerard David Schine, an aide to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the senator's hunt for Communists in the 1950s, was killed along with his wife and son when their small plane crashed on a street shortly after takeoff.
The single-engine Beechcraft Sundowner slammed into the ground near the Golden State Freeway about 2 p.m. Wednesday after departing from the Burbank Airport, officials said.Killed were Schine, 68, his wife, Hillevi, 62 and son Frederick, 34, who was the pilot, police said.
The wreckage ended up on a sidewalk and dirt lot about 30 feet from a freeway overpass. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Gerard Schine was a 26-year-old, Harvard-educated heir to a hotel fortune when he began working for McCarthy in 1953. That spring, he and McCarthy aide Roy Cohn went hunting for subversives in the U.S. Information Agency in Europe.
Their efforts drew ridicule from the foreign press and demoralized agency staffers.
Schine was drafted into the Army that winter. When Cohn failed to get sufficient special privileges for Schine, Cohn allegedly threatened to "wreck the Army" with an investigation.
The controversy led to the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 and McCarthy's condemnation by the Senate for his abuse of Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens.
Schine later became an entertainment company executive. He was the executive producer of the 1971 movie "The French Connection," which earned star Gene Hackman an Academy Award.
The Schine Hotels chain included the now-defunct Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.