The heir to the Washington Post fortune, William W. Graham, committed suicide last week, echoing his publisher father's death in 1963.

Graham, a 69-year-old lawyer, was found dead last Wednesday, according to an obituary published in the Post, the Daily Mail reported.

His father Phil, who was publisher of the newspaper for 17 years, killed himself back in 1963.

A Steven Spielberg film starring Meryl Streep as William W. Graham's mother, which is based on her time as head of the newspaper, was released just two days before his death. Photo / Supplied
A Steven Spielberg film starring Meryl Streep as William W. Graham's mother, which is based on her time as head of the newspaper, was released just two days before his death. Photo / Supplied

Graham's mother Katharine then served as publisher for the next two decades.

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A Steven Spielberg film starring Meryl Streep as his mother, which is based on her time as head of the newspaper, was released on December 22 - just two days before his death.

His death came six days after the film's premiere in Washington DC.

Graham was a prominent lawyer at the Williams & Connolly firm in Washington DC in the 1970s before he moved to Los Angeles.

He later taught trial law the University of California at Los Angeles.

He founded and ran investment firm Graham Partners for 20 years before dissolving the business in 2001.

Graham then devoted himself to philanthropic activities, many of which remained anonymous.

His grandfather Eugene Meyer bought the Post at a bankruptcy auction in 1933.

Katharine, who was Meyer's daughter, oversaw the paper through some of its most important stories, including the Watergate scandal.

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The recently released film recounts the behind-the-scenes story of the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the lies behind US involvement in the Vietnam War.

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