Daniel O'Keefe (writer)

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O'Keefe in 2006

Daniel Lawrence O'Keefe (February 25, 1928 – August 29, 2012) was an American writer.

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, he received a B.A. from Columbia in 1949, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a PhD. from the New School for Social Research. At Columbia, he was national president of Junior Achievement, and was personally recruited by DeWitt Wallace, founder of Reader's Digest,[1] where he was an editor for over thirty years and worked with freelancers such as Ray Bradbury and award-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz.

O'Keefe invented Festivus, an annual secular holiday now celebrated on December 23, and featured on the sitcom Seinfeld.[2]

Daniel O'Keefe published the book Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic in 1982.[3] A Los Angeles Times book review called this book "a spectacular synthesis of sociology, anthropology, and psychoanalysis... a tour de force of accessible scholarship".[4] The New York Times Book Review said it is "a powerful explication of how deeply magic is embedded in society",[3] and Commonweal dubbed it "a potential classic".[5]


O'Keefe invented Festivus in 1966 to commemorate his wife's and his first date. Their son, Dan O'Keefe, later worked as a writer on Seinfeld and, during the 1997–1998 season, introduced Festivus to the public in a Seinfeld episode named "The Strike".


Daniel and Deborah O'Keefe married in 1963. She is the author of numerous magazine articles, as well as the books Good Girl Messages and Readers in Wonderland, works of literary criticism. The couple had three sons, all writers: Laurence, Dan, and Mark (aka Markham).[citation needed]

Dan O'Keefe is a television writer who in addition to Seinfeld.,[6] has also written for Silicon Valley, The Drew Carey Show, The League, Veep, and other shows. In 2005, he published The Real Festivus.[7]

Laurence O'Keefe is a composer, lyricist, and book-writer of musicals, including Batboy and Heathers, and collaborated on the Broadway show Legally Blonde with his wife, Nell Benjamin .[8]

Mark (aka Markham) O'Keefe has written for David Letterman, Bill Maher, sitcoms including Newsradio and a show he created, The O'Keefes, and collaborated with Steven Koren on the screenplays for Bruce Almighty and Click.[9]


  1. ^ Allen Salkin (December 19, 2004). "Fooey to the World: Festivus Is Come". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  2. ^ "DANIEL L. O'KEEFE Obituary". Legacy.com. February 25, 1928. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Mark Glazer (January 2, 1983). "How Magic Works". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  4. ^ "review cited on front cover of Vintage Books 1983 edition".
  5. ^ "cited on back cover of Vintage Books 1983 edition".
  6. ^ Dan O'Keefe profile, Internet Movie Database website; accessed December 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Dan O'Keefe (2005). "The Real Festivus". Perigee. ASIN 0399532293.
  8. ^ Laurence O'Keefe profile, Internet Movie Database website; accessed April 25, 2018.
  9. ^ Mark O'Keefe profile, Internet Movie Database website; accessed April 25, 2018.