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Sam Yorty, ex-mayor of L.A. and baffling maverick, dies

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Sam Yorty, the flamboyant mayor of Los Angeles who ushered the nation's second largest city through the turbulent 1960s before being ousted from office by the city's first black mayor, died Friday. He was 88.

Yorty, who was also a California state assemblyman and U.S. congressman in his 37-year political career, died peacefully at home at 7:40 a.m., his family said. He suffered a stroke last month and was briefly hospitalized before being sent home.Yorty was among the most colorful and controversial municipal administrators in the nation. Nicknames were plentiful: Travelin' Sam, Mayor Sam, Shoot-From-the-Lip Sam, the Maverick Mayor.

Some said he led a city whose name he couldn't pronounce. He always used the idiosyncratic Los Ang'-gah-lees.

He baffled liberals and conservatives alike, alienating fellow Democrats for endorsing Richard Nixon over John Kennedy for president in 1960 and drawing the ire of the right-wing early in his career by authoring legislation that was pro-union and advocating state-owned utilities.

After brief service in the state Assembly, Yorty left politics to serve in World War II. Returning to Los Angeles after the war, Yorty served in the U.S. House of Representative for two terms in the '50s.