Born in San Francisco on 18 August 1917, the son of a lawyer. He received an A.B. degree (1938) and a law degree (1941), both from Harvard. He entered the U.S. Army as a private in 1941, was commissioned, and served in the Pacific theater.
Between 1945 and 1947 Weinberger worked as a law clerk for a federal judge and then joined a San Francisco law firm. He won election to the California State Assembly in 1952 and reelection in 1954 and 1956. Although unsuccessful in his campaign in 1958 for California attorney general, Weinberger continued active in politics, becoming chairman of the California Republican Party in 1962. Governor Ronald Reagan named him chairman of the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy in 1967 and appointed him State director of finance early in 1968. He moved to Washington in January 1970 to become chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, subsequently serving as deputy director (1970-72) and director (1972-73) of the Office of Management and Budget and as secretary of health, education, and welfare (1973-75). For the next five years, Weinberger was vice president and general counsel of the Bechtel Group of Companies in California.more » « less