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American Heritage Center Pays Tribute to Ted Kennedy

September 11, 2009
Two men arm wrestling
Retired U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson squares off against the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in a photo to promote their popular radio program, "Face Off."

The University of Wyoming American Heritage Center's Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership is paying tribute to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy through rebroadcast of three episodes of "Face-Off."

"Face-Off" was a Mutual Broadcasting System radio program that Sen. Kennedy hosted with Wyoming U.S. Sen. (Ret.) Alan K. Simpson. The two senators, one Democrat and the other Republican, debated national issues in a format of short clips five days a week for eight years during the 1980s and 1990s.

Three installments of "Face-Off" are featured on the Simpson Institute's Web page at The clips date between Dec. 27, 1988 and Jan. 9, 1989. In these clips, the senators debate immigration, the Endangered Species Act and their New Year's resolutions for 1989. Their off-the-cuff style and friendly banter made "Face-Off" a popular national program.

Simpson recalled in a National Journal interview after Kennedy's death: "I remember one show, both our mothers had just died, each within five days of each other -- mine at 93 and his at over 100. We were both a handful for our parents, and we talked about that. Ted said, 'Well, you know, we had great mothers, and they stuck by us, even when we weren't exactly great sons.' And I said, 'Yep, they're probably up there, Ted, clearing the way for us.' And he said, 'Well, if they are, they'll need a bulldozer.' I'll never forget that one. We had a lot of fun together. He is a special friend, and I loved the guy."

Audio and transcripts of many of the Face-Off programs can be found in the Alan K. Simpson Papers at the American Heritage Center, says Leslie Waggener, AHC archivist.

"Besides documenting the close friendship, both personally and professionally, between Simpson and Kennedy, the papers document Simpson's work on such  issues as immigration, veterans' affairs and nuclear regulation during his long political career, first as a Wyoming state representative (1964-1977) and later as a Republican U.S. senator (1979-1997)."

The Alan K. Simpson Institute is an AHC program focusing on the acquisition, preservation and research use of the papers of prominent individuals, businesses and organizations that have provided leadership -- political, economic, social and cultural -- for Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain region.

"The institute facilitates the study of the roles and impacts of these individuals and groups that have put their stamp on this area," says Waggener.

The AHC is UW's repository of manuscript and special collections, rare books and the university archives. Its collections focus on Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West (including, but not limited to, politics, settlement and Western trails), environment and conservation, the mining and petroleum industries, air and rail transportation, the performing arts (particularly radio, television, film and popular music), journalism and U.S. military history. Students and scholars from around the globe use these collections for research -- last year researchers traveled from 45 states and 12 nations.

The AHC also sponsors a wide range of scholarly and popular programs including lectures, symposia and exhibits. The AHC is housed in a landmark building shared with the UW Art Museum, and access is free and open to all.

For more information call the AHC at (307) 766-4114 or visit its Web site at

Posted on Friday, September 11, 2009

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