Former lawmaker Dankworth dies

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2008

ANCHORAGE - A former state lawmaker who left office under ethical questions has died. Ed Dankworth was 80.

Fran Durner / Anchorage Daily News File
Fran Durner / Anchorage Daily News File

Bill Dankworth told the Anchorage Daily News his father developed pneumonia and his health declined rapidly. He died Saturday at a hospital in San Angelo, Texas.

Ed Dankworth was elected to a two-year term in the Alaska House in 1976, followed by a four-year term in the Senate.

He left office under a cloud in 1982. He was accused of trying to appropriate more than $3 million in state money to buy a pipeline camp he and a partner had bought for $900,000.

But charges were dropped in 1984 when the Alaska Court of Appeals ruled he was protected by legislative immunity.

He became a powerful lobbyist after his six-year stint in the Legislature. As a lobbyist, he became known as the "21st senator" because of his efforts to create Republican-led, and when he could, exclusively Republican caucuses, to control the 20-member upper chamber.

Dankworth also was a successful businessman. He commissioned a tourist-oriented adventure film of Alaska and it ran for nearly three decades on the dome of his Alaska Experience Theatre in downtown Anchorage until it was demolished a few years ago.

A close friend, Steve Schroeder, a former Alaskan now living in Little Rock, Ark., told the Daily News that Dankworth left Alaska about 10 years ago to return to the home in Ballinger, Texas, where he was born.

Dankworth was born in 1928. After a post-war Army stint, he went to Hollywood looking for a part in "singing cowboy" movies.

In 1953, he went to Juneau to manage the Gross Theatres and met his future wife, Anne Grabowski. She died in 1992.

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