Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Ex-US congressman Charlie Wilson dies in hospital


A look at the life of Charlie Wilson

Former US congressman Charlie Wilson has died at the age of 76, a hospital spokeswoman has said.

Mr Wilson represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 1973 to 1996 and was nicknamed "Good Time Charlie" for his party-loving ways.

The 2007 Hollywood film Charlie Wilson's War told of his efforts to arm the Afghan mujahideen during the 1980s Soviet occupation.

Actor Tom Hanks portrayed Mr Wilson in the movie.

A hospital spokeswoman told the Associated Press news agency that Mr Wilson had been taken to hospital after he started having breathing difficulties while attending a meeting in Lufkin, Texas.

She said Mr Wilson was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital and cited "cardiopulmonary arrest" as the preliminary cause of death.

A Democrat, Mr Wilson started his political career at the age of 27 as a state representative for his home district in Texas, in the heart of the East Texas Bible Belt.

He then went on to become a state senator before being elected to the US Congress, where he served 12 terms until his retirement in 1996.

"Charlie was perfect as a congressman, perfect as a state representative, perfect as a state senator. He was a perfect reflection of the people he represented. If there was anything wrong with Charlie, I never did know what it was," AP quoted his former chief-of-staff, Charles Schnabel, as saying.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments and tributes on the death of Charlie Wilson. Here is a selection.

Texas is renowned for it's outsized personalities. Charlie Wilson was liberal in an extreme right-wing star, quite an out-size kind of accomplishment.
John Tomlinson, New York City, USA

Charlie Wilson by helping to dislodge the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, helped to defeat one evil, communism, for a much greater evil, Islamic Fundamentalism, with help from our erstwhile friends the Pakistanis! Let us NEVER forget that 9/11 could not and would not have occurred if Afghanistan was in the Soviet Orbit!
Suriyan Nathan, New York City

Charlie Wilson was wrong to arm the muj of Afghanistan. We had no similar ideology, he came from an era where all that mattered was winning the cold war, a black and white world where the ends justified the means. And it is the next generation that will pay for it. His actions in Afghanistan are the case study for the rest of the world why you do not arm other groups which do not have the same ideology as you.
Aaron Rudd, Spalding

Charlie Wilson was a reckless cowboy with no thought of the long term consequences of his (America's) actions, hence, the American body bags coming back from Afghanistan.
Jeff Sokal, Jeffersonville, Vt. USA

This man raised the mujahideen, and people like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Osama Bin Ladin to power, and yet he blamed the US Congress for messing-up the "end-game." He should be remembered as a misguided fool who helped bring terrorists to power.
Cristobal DeLicia, Cambridge, MA, USA

Quite a lively character who truly believed in what he was doing. Deep down he really loved his country. His lifestyle never had an impact on his effectiveness. So that's a lesson, separate the personal from the public life ( we need colourful characters) really.
Alimamy, Freetown, Sierra Leone

We have really lost a rarity - a maverick politician. God Bless his soul!
Amit Ramchandani, Singapore

Charlie Wilson is typical of Texas politicians born 1920-1940 and in American politics 1950-1990 who were, as you describe confident, taking risks, and putting reputations on the line for their beliefs. Among these were Ralph Yarborough and Lyndon Johnson. These are qualities that seem to be lost in today's more conservative political atmosphere. For today's Texans, our political future lies somewhere in the middle between the rogues of old and the milk toast of today!
Mscaleb, Dimebox, U.S.

Mr. Wilson spoke in Scranton, PA, in October, 2009, as part of the Lackawanna County Library System's 2009 lecture series. I had the pleasure of speaking with him. Not only was he gracious to those seeking autographs, but he seemed truly interested in what they said. He was a good man.
Mary Barna, Peckville, PA USA

I thought that Charlie Wilson was a hero. I never met him but know of him (mostly from the movie). Mr. Scheuer is right about the people in congress now, they are bunch of self serving wimps compared to Charlie. We need more heroes like Charlie in congress today. I would certainly vote for him for president if he were alive today.
Ed Moghis, San Carlos, USA

Charlie Wilson did the right thing by supporting Afghans with weapons to defect the communist government of Russia which lead to the fall of soviet communism and also freedom for Afghans. The mistake the US made was that they deserted the Afghans after the soviets were defeated. Had he worked on developing Afghanistan as country after that then 9/11 would not have occurred and so would not have any war on terrorism. The whole world would have been a much better place today.
Apek, Dallas,TX

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