Donald Zec

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Donald Zec, OBE (born March 12, 1919[1] ), was a British journalist who produced "brilliant and acerbic" writing in the Daily Mirror for 40 years.[2]

His grandfather was a Jewish refugee from Odessa, in Ukraine. His father Simon Zecanovsky settled in London, shortened the family name to Zec, and raised nine daughters and two sons.


Zec's career in journalism began in 1938 with a three-day trial at the Daily Mirror. He has recalled: "I was so embarrassingly bad that no one had the courage to tell me, so I stayed for 40 years."[3] During the war, he served in the London Irish Rifles, returning to the Daily Mirror as a crime reporter.

On one occasion, he interviewed the infamous acid-bath murderer John George Haigh in the Onslow Court Hotel.

He subsequently became the paper's Royal correspondent and then film writer. In the course of his work he interviewed and wrote about many celebrities, particularly from the worlds of entertainment and showbusiness,[4] including Humphrey Bogart, Brigitte Bardot, David Niven, Ingrid Bergman, The Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe.[5]

The numerous books Donald Zec has written include biography of the Queen Mother[6] and of cinema stars such as Sophia Loren, Barbra Streisand and Lee Marvin.

His wrote a biography of his brother, the political cartoonist Philip Zec, entitled Don't Lose It Again! The Life and Wartime Cartoons of Philip Zec, which was published in 2005.[7][8]

Donald Zec now lives in London's Holland Park area. He was married for 66 years. After his wife died in 2006 he took up painting, mainly with acrylic paint.

In October 1967 he won a National Press Award as Descriptive Writer of the year, the citation spoke of his 'bland outrageousness and a deadly certainty of aim..' Extending his range, he interviewed major political figures such as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer Selwyn Lloyd, the late Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, the (then) leader of the Opposition Margaret Thatcher. the late Lord Mountbatten of Burma and the former Californian Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967, commenting; 'it is a whimsical if not uneasy thought that an ex-movie star of many films that escape instant recollection could one day become President of the United States of America ' In 1970 he was awarded the OBE for services to Journalism.

In October 2012 he won the Oldie Magazine's inaugural British Artists Award (OBA) for artists over the age of sixty. A year later his portrait of his late paternal grandfather was prsented at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition,jointly winning the Hugh Casson Prize for Drawing.