Marilyn Klinghoffer Dead at 58

Marilyn Klinghoffer, the widow of Leon Klinghoffer who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the sea-jacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro last October, died today at Lenox Hill Hospital, reportedly of cancer. She was 58 years old and lived in Manhattan.

Klinghoffer and her husband were among the several hundred passengers aboard the cruise ship when it was hijacked off the Egyptian coast by Palestinian terrorists who demanded freedom of Palestinians held in prisons in Israel.

Leon Klinghoffer became the sole fatality of the two-day ordeal when he was shot and killed by the terrorists who then dumped his body into the Mediterranean. His body later washed ashore on the Syrian coast and was subsequently returned to the U.S. for burial.

Klinghoffer’s strength in the face of the incident gained her national attention. She recently sought to sell the rights of her and Leon’s story of the Achille Lauro hijacking to a production company for a television docu-drama.

Marilyn Klinghoffer worked since 1972 for Gralla Publications in New York, beginning in the circulation department and eventually moving up to become assistant personnel director. She was also involved in Jewish organizations, including B’nai B’rith.

Shortly after the Achille Lauro affair, the President and the First Lady met with the entire Klinghoffer family in New York. She also appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Operations, where she declared.

“I believe that my husband’s death has made a difference in the way that people now perceive their vulnerability. I believe that what happened to the passengers on the Achille Lauro and to my family can happen to anyone, at any time, at any place.”

A spokesperson for the Klinghoffer family told the JTA late this afternoon that Marilyn Klinghoffer had been diagnosed as having cancer in the fall of 1984. She was in Lenox Hill hospital for two weeks before her death.

The spokesperson said the Leon Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation, established after the Achille Lauro incident will change its name to the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation, and that the family intends to continue on with the foundation’s work of fighting terrorism. Funeral arrangements had not been completed by late this afternoon.

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