Alfred “Al” Friendly was born on May 17, 1938 in Washington, D.C. His parents were Alfred, Sr. and Jean Friendly and he was the eldest of five children. His father was a journalist with the Washington Post and his mother was a homemaker and involved in the Foreign Student Service Council. Alfred graduated from Harvard and later joined the Army. He became a journalist in 1962 for Newsweek and in 1966 moved over to the New York Times, until 1971. He worked for Senator Muskie as a speech writer and as a member of the Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee. From 1974 to 1976 he worked in Russia for Newsweek. In 1976 he returned to work on the Helsinki Commission, then worked for Joe Biden on the European Affairs Subcommittee. He became the Associate White House Press Secretary in 1980 for Carter.
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Nicoll, Don, "Friendly, Alfred "Al" oral history interview" (2003). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 136.