James Britt Donovan was born on February 29, 1916, and dies on January 19, 1970. Donovan was a United States Navy Officer, an American Lawyer, and a political negotiator.

       James Donovan is widely popular for negotiating the 1960- 1962 exchange of captured American U-2 Pilot- Francis Gary Powers for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, and also known for  negotiating the 1962 release and return of nearly 10,000 prisoners held by Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. In the film Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks acted the role of James Donovan and the film was directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen.

Glienicke Bridge

       In the year 1941, James Donovan married a woman named Mary E. McKenna. The couple had a son and three daughters. Donovan's 1960 - 1962 negotiation took place on the Glienicke Bridge between East and West Germany.

10 interesting and lesser known facts about James Britt Donovan:

10. James Britt Donovan was born in the Bronx. He was the son of Harriet (O'Connor), a piano teacher, and John J. Donovan, a surgeon. His brother was New York state senator John J. Donovan, Jr. Both sides of the family were of Irish descent.

9.  After graduating from law school, Donovan started work at a private lawyer's office. He served as a commander in the Navy during World War II. In 1942, he became Associate General Counsel at the Office of Scientific Research and Development. From 1943 to 1945, he was General Counsel at the Office of Strategic Services. 

Rudolf Abel

8. In 1962, Donovan successfully negotiated for the exchange of Powers, along with American student Frederic Pryor, for the still-imprisoned Rudolf Abel, whom Donovan had defended five years earlier.

7. In June 1962, Donovan was met by Cuban exile PĂ©rez Cisneros, who asked him to support the negotiations to free the 1,113 prisoners of the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Donovan offered pro bono legal service for the Cuban Families Committee of prisoners' relatives.

6. In 1962, he was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in New York but lost in November 1962 to Republican incumbent Jacob K. Javits.

5. On December 21, 1962, Castro and James Donovan signed a contract to exchange all 1,113 prisoners for $53 million in food and medicine, sourced from private donations and from companies expecting tax concessions. Donovan had the idea to exchange the prisoners for medicine after he had found out that the Cuban medicine didn't help him with his own bursitis.

4. The story of the Abel trial and defense, followed by the tense negotiation and thrilling prisoner exchange at the height of the Cold War, was the basis for the book Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers, written by Donovan and ghost writer Bard Lindeman, which was published in 1964.

3. From 1961 to 1963, Donovan was Vice President of the New York Board of Education, and from 1963 until 1965, he was the President of the board.

2. In his final years, Donovan was President of Pratt Institute. He died of a heart attack on January 19, 1970, at the Methodist Hospital in New York, after being treated for influenza.

1. Donovan saved a total of 10,000 prisoners held by Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

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