Shalit on Today, 1973
March 25, 1926
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||Morristown High School|
|Alma mater||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
Gene Shalit (born March 25, 1926) is an American film and book critic. He filled those roles on NBC's The Today Show from January 15, 1973, until his retirement in 2010. He is known for his frequent use of puns, his oversized moustache, and for wearing colorful bowties.
He has been involved in reviewing the arts since 1967 and has written for such publications as Look magazine, Ladies' Home Journal (for 12 years), Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, Seventeen, Glamour, McCall's, and The New York Times. From 1970–1982 he had a daily essay on NBC Radio "Man About Anything," that was carried on more stations than any other NBC network radio feature. In 1987, he published Laughing Matters: A Treasury of American Humor, a critically praised humor anthology. Shalit's children include the artist and entrepreneur Willa Shalit.
According to his official MSNBC bio, "Shalit was born in a New York [hospital] on March 25, 1926, and eight days later arrived in Newark, New Jersey, in company of his mother. In 1932 he accompanied his family when they moved to Morristown, New Jersey. In Morristown High School he wrote the school paper’s humor column (prophetically called "The Broadcaster"), and narrowly escaped expulsion."
Shalit, according to a New York Times magazine interview of Dick Clark, was Clark's press agent in the early 1960s. Shalit reportedly "stopped representing" Clark during a Congressional investigation of payola. Clark never spoke to Shalit again, and referred to him as a "jellyfish", an informal term for 'a person without strong resolve or stamina'.
Shalit announced that he would leave The Today Show after 40 years, effective November 11, 2010. Of his decision, he was quoted as saying: "It's enough already."
Brokeback Mountain review controversy
Shalit was criticized by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for his review of Brokeback Mountain in which he referred to Jake Gyllenhaal's character as a "sexual predator." His gay son, Peter Shalit, wrote a letter to GLAAD defending his father and said GLAAD had defamed him by "falsely accusing him of a repellent form of bigotry."
Cameo appearances and bit parts
Shalit guest-starred as the voice, and was portrayed in the form, of a fish named "Gene Scallop" in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Krusty Sponge." Shalit told Entertainment Tonight that he enjoys the show and was amused seeing the episode.
He also made a cameo appearance in an episode of Family Guy in a cutaway gag, mugging Peter and talking in puns on movies. In another episode, Peter obtains the power of transformation. While in the form of Britney Spears he kisses Justin Timberlake and then turns into Shalit, exclaiming to a horrified Timberlake "I'm Gene Shalit now! BYE!" A review that was supposedly written by Shalit was read aloud by Peter, in the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus." Shalit also voiced his own likeness in three episodes of the animated series The Critic.
- Biography on MSNBC
- Shalit, Gene (1987). Laughing Matters: A Celebration of American Humor. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-18547-2.
- Morristown at a glance, Gannett Company. Accessed January 27, 2008. "Poet Joyce Kilmer once taught at Morristown High School, and film critic Gene Shalit got his start writing a humor column, "The Korn Krib," for the high school newspaper."
- Goldman, Andrew (27 March 2011). "Dick Clark, Still the Oldest Living Teenager". New York Times Magazine: MM14. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- "jellyfish". dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. Retrieved June 02, 2012.
- "People: Conan O'Brien; Robert De Niro; Gene Shalit; Rachel Weisz; Darren Aronofsky; Neil Young; John Nettles". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- Peter Shalit writes to GLAAD about his dad, Advocate.com, January 10, 2006