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Political Activist, Former California State Senator Tom Hayden Dead At 76

LOS ANGELES (  — The LA Times is reporting that Tom Hyden, political activist, author, lecturer, leading progressive, former California State Senator and one-time husband to Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda, has died.

Hayden was 76.

He died after a lengthy illness, the paper said.

Hayden was born in Detroit and went to college at the University of Michigan. While there, he became involved with a leftist student group, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He became an early Freedom Rider and went on tours throughout the south to promote integration.

Hayden first came to prominence as a fiery, outspoken opponent of the Vietnam war. He organized and led many protests outside the contentious Democratic convention in 1968,

A former LBJ speechwriter, Richard N. Goodwin, once said of Hayden, "without even knowing it,  [he] inspired the Great Society."

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti went on Twitter to express his admiration for Hayden both personally and professionally..

Hayden made a quiet foray into the political world in the mid 70s -- in 1976 he took on incumbent US Senator John Tunney and finished a close second. He became an assembly man in 1982 and held his seat for a decade. He then ran for the state senate and won in 1992. He held that seat for eight more years. Suffice to say, during his time in office he gave conservatives a lot to handle.

He had unsuccessful bids to become California's governor in 1994 and Los Angeles mayor in 1997.

For the past two decades, Hayden taught at numerous colleges around the Southland as well as at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

The Nation recently listed him as one of the 50 greatest progressives of the 20th century.

Hayden was married three times: Casey Carson (1961-82), Fonda (1973-1990) and Barbara Williams from 1993 to the present.

He had one child, with Fonda, actor Troy Garrity and a son he adopted with Williams in 2000.

For more about Hayden, go to his official website.

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