Art Buchwald at the Miami Book Fair International in 1989
October 20, 1925
New York City
|Died||January 17, 2007
Washington, D.C., US
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Parent(s)||Helen and Joseph Buchwald|
Arthur Buchwald (October 20, 1925 – January 17, 2007) was an American humorist best known for his column in The Washington Post, which in turn was carried as a syndicated column in many other newspapers. His column focused on political satire and commentary. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Outstanding Commentary in 1982 and in 1986 was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Buchwald was born in New York City, to an Austrian-Hungarian Jewish immigrant family. He was the son of Joseph Buchwald, a curtain manufacturer, and Helen (Klineberger), who later spent 35 years in a mental hospital. He was the youngest of four, with three older sisters—Alice, Edith, and Doris. Buchwald's father put him in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City when the family business failed during the Great Depression. Buchwald was moved about between several foster homes, including a Queens boarding house for sick children (he had rickets) operated by Seventh-day Adventists. He stayed in the foster home until he was 5. Buchwald, his father and sisters were eventually reunited and lived in Hollis, a residential community in Queens. Buchwald did not graduate from Jamaica High School, and ran away from home at age 17.
He wanted to join the United States Marine Corps during World War II but was too young to join without parental or legal guardian consent, so he bribed a drunk with half a pint of whiskey to sign as his legal guardian. From October 1942 to October 1945, he served with the Marines as part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. He spent two years in the Pacific Theater and was discharged from the service as a Sergeant. He said of his time in the Marines, "In the Marines, they don't have much use for humorists, they beat my brains in."
On his return, Buchwald enrolled at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on the G.I. Bill, despite not having his high school diploma. At USC he was managing editor of the campus magazine Wampus; he also wrote a column for the college newspaper, the Daily Trojan. The university permitted him to continue his studies after learning he had not graduated high school, but deemed him ineligible for a degree; he received an honorary doctorate from the school in 1993.
In 1949 he left USC and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. Eventually, he got a job as a correspondent for Variety in Paris. In January 1950, he took a sample column to the offices of the European edition of The New York Herald Tribune. Titled "Paris After Dark", it was filled with scraps of offbeat information about Parisian nightlife. Buchwald was hired and joined the editorial staff. His column caught on quickly, and Buchwald followed it in 1951 with another column, "Mostly About People". They were fused into one under the title "Europe's Lighter Side". Buchwald's columns soon began to recruit readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
In November 1952, Buchwald wrote a column in which he attempted to explain the Thanksgiving holiday to the French, using garbled French translations such as "Kilometres Deboutish" for Miles Standish; Buchwald considered it his favorite column, and it was later re-run every Thanksgiving during Buchwald's lifetime.
Buchwald also enjoyed the notoriety he received when U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower's press secretary, Jim Hagerty, took seriously a spoof press conference report claiming that reporters asked questions about the president's breakfast habits. After Hagerty called his own conference to denounce the article as "unadulterated rot," Buchwald famously retorted, "Hagerty is wrong. I write adulterated rot." On August 24, 1959, TIME magazine, in reviewing the history of the European edition of The Herald Tribune, reported that Buchwald's column had achieved an "institutional quality."
While in Paris, Buchwald became the only correspondent to substantively interview Elvis Presley, most notably at the Prince de Galles Hotel, where the soon-to-be Sgt. Presley was staying during a week-end off from his Army stint in Germany. Presley's impromptu performances at the Le Lido piano, as well as his singing for the showgirls after most of the customers had left the nightclub, became legendary following its inclusion in Buchwald's bestselling book, I'll Always Have Paris.
Buchwald returned to the United States in 1962 and was syndicated by Tribune Media Services. His column appeared in more than 550 newspapers at its height, and he published more than 30 books in his lifetime. He also contributed fumetti to Marvel Comics' Crazy Magazine which tore apart statistics regarding 1970s campus life.
In Buchwald's later years, his detractors characterized the column as hackneyed, tiresome and not funny. When the Dallas Times Herald canceled it in 1989, the editors did not receive a single letter of protest. By contrast, when the paper cancelled the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead, so many readers complained that the editors were compelled to bring it back.
Buchwald had a cameo in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief; near the beginning an issue of the Paris Herald Tribune is shown in close-up to highlight a column bylined by Buchwald about jewel thefts on the French Riviera, setting up the plot. He contributed to the English dialogue of Jacques Tati's Playtime. Buchwald also had a cameo role in an 1972 episode of TV's Mannix, "Moving Target". He is shown in Frederick Wiseman's 1983 film "The Store" delivering a tribute to Stanley Marcus, the store's owner.
Buchwald and his wife Ann, whom he met in Paris, adopted three children and lived in Washington, D.C. He spent most summers in his house in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard.
Coming to America lawsuit
Buchwald was also known for the Buchwald v. Paramount lawsuit, which he and partner Alain Bernheim filed against Paramount Pictures in 1988 in a controversy over the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America; Buchwald claimed Paramount had stolen his script treatment. He won, was awarded damages, and then accepted a settlement from Paramount. The case was the subject of a 1992 book, Fatal Subtraction: The Inside Story of Buchwald v. Paramount by Pierce O'Donnell and Dennis McDougal.
Illness and death
In 2000, at age 74, Buchwald suffered a stroke that left him hospitalized for more than two months.
On February 16, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Buchwald had had a leg amputated below the knee and was staying at Washington Home and Hospice. The amputation was reportedly necessary because of poor circulation in the leg.
Buchwald invited radio talk show presenter Diane Rehm to interview him. During the show, which aired on February 24, 2006, he revealed his decision to discontinue hemodialysis, which had previously been initiated to treat renal failure secondary to diabetes mellitus. He described his decision as his "last hurrah," stating that, "If you have to go, the way you go is a big deal." He reported that he was "very happy with his choices" and was eating at McDonald's on a regular basis.
Buchwald was later interviewed with Miles O'Brien of CNN in a segment aired on March 31, 2006. Buchwald discussed his living will, which documents his wishes for his doctors not to revive him if he fell into a coma. As of the date of that interview, Buchwald was still writing a periodic column. In the interview, he described a dream in which he was waiting to take his "final plane ride."
In June 2006, Buchwald was again interviewed by Diane Rehm after leaving the hospice. He reported that his kidney was working and that he "blesses him every morning. Some people bless their hearts, I bless my kidney." He reported that he was looking forward to getting a new leg and visiting Martha's Vineyard.
In July 2006, Buchwald returned to his summer home in Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard. While there, he completed a book titled Too Soon to Say Goodbye, about the five months he spent in the hospice. Eulogies that were prepared by his friends, colleagues, and family members that were never delivered (or not delivered until later) are included in the book.
On November 3, 2006, television news reporter Kyra Phillips interviewed Buchwald for CNN. Phillips had known Buchwald since 1989, when she had first interviewed him. On November 22, 2006, Buchwald again appeared on Rehm's show, describing himself as a "poster boy for hospices – because I lived."
In December 2006, in his final interview, he told nurse/writer Terry Ratner that he was also a poster boy for nurses. The article, The 'Art' of Saying Goodbye appeared in the January 2007 issues of Nursing Spectrum and NurseWeek, national nursing publications.
Buchwald died of kidney failure on January 17, 2007, at his son Joel's home in Washington, D.C. The next day the website of The New York Times posted a video obituary in which Buchwald himself declared: "Hi. I'm Art Buchwald, and I just died."
- Paris After Dark (Imprimerie du Centre 1950. Also Published by Herald Tribune, European Ed., S. A., 1953)
- Art Buchwald's Paris (Lion Library, 1956)
- I Chose Caviar (Victor Gollancz, 1957)
- The Brave Coward (Harper, 1957)
- More Caviar (Victor Gollancz, 1958)
- A Gift from the Boys (Harper, 1958)
- Don't Forget to Write (World Pub. Co., 1960)
- Come with Me Home: Complete Novel Also by Gladys Hasty Carroll and Jerrard Tickell (Doubleday, 1960)
- How Much is that in Dollars? (World Pub. Co., 1961)
- Is it Safe to Drink the Water? (PBK Crest Books, 1963)
- I Chose Capitol Punishment (World Pub. Co., 1963)
- ... and Then I Told the President: The Secret Papers of Art Buchwald (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1965)
- Son of the Great Society (Putnam, 1966)
- Have I Ever Lied to You? (Putnam, 1968)
- The Establishment is Alive and Well in Washington (Putnam, 1969)
- Counting Sheep; The Log and the Complete Play: Sheep on the Runway. (Putnam, 1970)
- Oh, to be a Swinger (Vintage, 1970)
- Getting High in Government Circles (Putnam, 1971)
- I Never Danced at the White House (Putnam, 1973)
- "I Am Not a Crook" (Putnam, 1974)
- The Bollo Caper: A Fable for Children of All Ages (Doubleday, 1974)
- Irving's Delight: At Last! a Cat Story for the Whole Family! (McKay, 1975)
- Washington Is Leaking (Putnam, 1976)
- Down the Seine and Up the Potomac (Putnam, 1977)
- Best cartoons of the world Miller Collection (Brown University)(Atlas World Press Review, 1978)
- Art Buchwald by Leonard Probst Transcript of an interview conducted by Leonard Probst, March 31, and April 1, 1978.(American Jewish Committee, Oral History Library, 1978)
- The Buchwald Stops Here (Putnam, 1979)
- Seems Like Yesterday Ann Buchwald interrupted by Art Buchwald (Putnam, 1980)
- Laid Back in Washington (Putnam, 1981)
- While Reagan Slept (Putnam, 1983)
- You Ask, Buchwald Answers (Listen & Learn U.S.A.!, 1983)
- The Official Bank-Haters' Handbook also by Joel D. Joseph (Natl Pr Books, 1984)
- "You Can Fool All of the People All the Time" (Putnam, 1985)
- I Think I Don’t Remember (Putnam, 1987)
- Whose Rose Garden Is It Anyway? (Putnam, 1989)
- Lighten Up, George (Putnam, 1991)
- Leaving Home: A Memoir (Putnam, 1994)
- I'll Always Have Paris: A Memoir (Putnam, 1995)
- Stella in Heaven: Almost a Novel (Putnam, 2000)
- We'll Laugh Again (Putnam, 2002)
- Beating Around the Bush (Seven Stories, 2005)
- "Ann Buchwald, 74, Writer and Ex-Agent". The New York Times. July 5, 1994.
- "Humorist Art Buchwald talks openly about depression". emory.edu.
- Severo, Richard; Brozan, Nadine (January 19, 2007). "Art Buchwald, Whose Humor Poked the Powerful, Dies at 81," The New York Times.
- Le Grande Thanksgiving, Art Buchwald, The Washington Post, November 24, 2005
- "Art Buchwald" (obituary), The Daily Telegraph, January 19, 2007.
- "Spy". google.com.
- Dirda on Books. "If you've seen To Catch a Thief ... you'll remember that the return of The Cat is covered in the Paris Herald Tribune. If you look at the author of the article, it's Art Buchwald."
- O'Donnell, Pierce; McDougal, Dennis (1992). Fatal Subtraction: How Hollywood Really Does Business. The Inside Story of Buchwald v. Paramount. New York City: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-41686-5.
- Washington Home and Hospice Archived June 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.; Retrieved on 2007-01-18
- Buchwald interview Archived December 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.; Retrieved on 2007-01-18
- "Columnist Art Buchwald dead at 81". CNN. January 18, 2007. Archived from the original on January 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- The Last Word: Art Buchwald; Retrieved on 2007-03-11
- "National - Jefferson Awards". Jefferson Awards.
- The Official Bank-Haters' Handbook Also By Joel D. Joseph (Natl Pr Books, 1984)
- You Ask, Buchwald Answers (Listen & Learn U.S.A.)
- While Reagan Slept (Fawcett 1983)
- Laid Back in Washington With Art Buchwald (Putnam, 1981) ISBN 0-399-12648-1
- Seems Like Yesterday (Berkley Pub Group, 1981)
- 100 years of the Paris trib: From the archives of the International Herald Tribune Author: Bruce Singer; introduction By Art Buchwald. Harry N. Abrams: New York 1987. ISBN 0-8109-1410-7
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Art Buchwald|
- Art Buchwald, Barry Crimmins, Paul Krassner, Kurt Vonnegut – Beating Around the Bush: An Evening of Satire recorded on October 6, 2005, at The New York Society for Ethical Culture, 63 min., mp3 format
- Diane Rehm interviews Art Buchwald in his hospice room (February 24, 2006) RealAudio, Windows Media
- The Final Days of Art Buchwald: A Visit by Suzette Standring – Editor & Publisher
- Shafer, Ronald G. (March 4, 2006). "The Genius of Art Buchwald". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
- Hold the eulogies, he's not ready to sign off yet The Boston Globe July 16, 2006
- "Art Buchwald Dies With Funny Bone Intact" Forbes.com
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Art Buchwald at Library of Congress Authorities, with 54 catalog records