Joan Juliet Buck

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Joan Juliet Buck
Juliet by Reginald Gray.jpg
Study for a portrait of Buck by Reginald Gray, Paris 1980s (graphite on canvas)
Born Los Angeles, California
Occupation Writer, editor, actor
Nationality American
Years active 1968 - Present

Joan Juliet Buck (born 1948) is an American writer and actress. She was the editor-in-chief of French Vogue from 1994 to 2001, the only American ever to have edited a French magazine.[1] She writes for W magazine and Harper's Bazaar and was contributing editor to Vogue and Vanity Fair for many years. The author of two novels, she will release a memoir, The Price of Illusion, in March 2017.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in 1948,[2] she is the only child of Jules Buck (1917–2001), an American film producer, who moved his family to Europe in 1952 in reaction to the political repression in the United States at the time.[3][4] Her mother, Joyce Ruth Getz (aka Joyce Gates, died 1996), was a model, actress, and interior designer.[3][5] John Huston, for whom her father worked as a cameraman,[4] was the best man at her parents' 1945 wedding. Her first language is French and she identifies as Jewish.[6]


Journalism, US[edit]

Dropping out of Sarah Lawrence College to work at Glamour magazine[7] as a book reviewer in 1968, Buck became the features editor of British Vogue at the age of 23, then a correspondent for Women's Wear Daily in London and Rome.[8][9] Buck was an associate editor of the London Observer. A contributing editor to American Vogue from 1980 and also Vanity Fair,[7] she also published profiles and essays in The New Yorker,[10] Condé Nast Traveler,[11] Travel + Leisure,[12] and The Los Angeles Times Book Review.

As movie critic for American Vogue from 1990 to 1994, she served on the New York Film Festival selection committee the year its program included Chen Kaige's Farewell, My Concubine, Jane Campion's The Piano, and Robert Altman's Short Cuts.[13] From 1994 to 2001 she was editor-in-chief of French Vogue,[7] where she doubled the magazine's circulation and produced thematic year-end issues on cinema, art, music, sex, theater, and quantum physics.[14]

For US Vogue, she profiled such cover subjects as Marion Cotillard,[15] Gisele Bündchen,[16] Carey Mulligan,[17] and Natalie Portman, writing also about the playwright Tom Stoppard[18][19] and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy for the magazine.[20] For Vanity Fair, she profiled people like Bernard-Henri Lévy[21] and Mike Nichols.[22] For the New Yorker her subjects included the actor Daniel Day-Lewis, chronicler of Russian émigrés in Paris Nina Berberova, and Princess Diana's relics post-death.[23][24][25]

She has appeared in numerous documentaries, among them James Kent's Fashion Victim, the Killing of Gianni Versace, Mark Kidel's Paris Whorehouse and Architecture of the Imagination. Buck narrated James Crump's 2007 documentary Black, White + Gray, about art collector Sam Wagstaff and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.[26]

In the early 2010s, she wrote for T magazine, New York Times's fashion magazine and The Daily Beast, among other publications,[27][28][29] and was the consulting editor to Dasha Zhukova on her Garage magazine which the New York Times called "one of the most intriguing magazines to come along in years."[30][31][32] Her humorous cultural pieces for T included subjects like the culture of high-end bedding and the cross-country tour of The Moth storytelling series, in which she participated in 2009 and 2012.[33][34]

Since 2011, she has written for W and, since 2015, for Harper's Bazaar. Her topics have included Yves Saint Laurent muse Loulou de la Falaise, art photographer Taryn Simon, the history of the social scene in Palm Springs, and an essay about what a contemporary femme fatale would be, for the former,[35][36][37][38] and Patti Smith, the art of the retort, and dressing one's age for the latter.[39][40][41]

She is releasing a memoir entitled The Price of Illusion via Atria Books in March 2017.[42]

Journalism, Europe[edit]

She became the features editor of British Vogue at the age of 23, then a correspondent for Women's Wear Daily in London and Rome. She was an associate editor of the London Observer between the times she worked for Women's Wear Daily and her work for Vogue and Vanity Fair in New York City. She was as French Vogue's editor in chief from 1994 to 2001.[43] Her selection was described by The New York Times as an indication that Condé Nast intended to "modernize the magazine and expand its scope" from its circulation of 80,000.[44]


She began studying acting in 2002, and appears in a supporting role in Nora Ephron's 2009 movie Julie & Julia as Madame Elisabeth Brassart, head of the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.[14][45][46][47] She wrote about the experience of auditioning for Ephron after she died in June 2012.[6]

In November 2009, she appeared in an action theater piece with other actors for Performa09 at the White Slab Palace in New York City.[48] Curated by Michael Portnoy and Sarina Basta, it was part of a week of Weimar cabaret,[49] and in it, Buck and another actor held a conversation guided by the third actor's random flashing of prompt cards.

In 2010, Buck played Mrs. Prest in an adaptation of The Aspern Papers, a Henry James novella, directed by first-time filmmaker Mariana Hellmund.[50][51] She played Marguerite Duras in Irina Brook's La Vie Materielle that spring and again in 2013 at La MaMa E.T.C. theater in New York City alongside Nicole Ansari from Deadwood.[52][53]

In May 2012, she appeared with comedian Eugene Mirman, performers Ira Glass, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Amber Tamblyn in a night of interpretations of the Joan of Arc narrative at the Littlefield, a Brooklyn performance space.[54]

In 2015, Buck appeared in the Supergirl episode "Red Faced," playing Katherine Grant, the mother of CatCo founder Cat Grant.[55]

As a child, Buck was cast as a Scots waif in the Walt Disney film Greyfriars Bobby.[56]

Novels and adaptations[edit]

Buck's novels about multicultural expatriates are The Only Place To Be published by Random House in 1982 and Daughter Of The Swan published by Weidenfeld in 1987.[57][58] She was one of a long line of writers commissioned to adapt D. M. Thomas's novel The White Hotel. Her version was singled out by Thomas as "faithful and intelligent" among versions that included ones by the writer himself and Dennis Potter but the film has never been made.[59]

In 2009, the story "The Ghost Of The Rue Jacob"[60] was a big hit at The Moth. In February 2012, Buck went on "The Unchained Tour" through Georgia with George Green, founder of The Moth.[61][62]

Asma al-Assad article[edit]

In its March 2011 issue, Vogue published a profile that Buck wrote about Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, describing her as "glamorous, young and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies."[63] The piece caused a furor within the East Coast US media as news of al-Assad's violent repression of his people in mid-March[64] began to sink in. In April, Max Fisher attacked it in The Atlantic as an ill-timed "puff piece" that ignored human rights abuses under Syria's Ba'athist regime.[65] Paul Farhi wrote in The Washington Post, "It may have been the worst-timed, and most tin-eared, magazine article in decades."[63]

In May 2011 the article was removed from Vogue's website,[63] even though the magazine had previously said it had taken "more than a year" to cultivate.[65] The New York Times subsequently reported that the Assad "family paid the Washington public relations firm Brown Lloyd James $5,000 a month to act as a liaison between Vogue and the first lady, according to the firm."[66]

Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin observed, "[I]t was the Washington liberal foreign policy community that, for years, had fancied Bashar al-Assad as a constructive player in the Middle East," specifically naming President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Quoting Lee Smith, Rubin pointed out that John Kerry, Teresa Heinz, James A. Baker and Brent Scowcroft, among others, courted Assad in an attempt to sway him from Iran. "American liberals and Republican realpolitikers were every bit as sycophantic and deluded as Buck," she wrote.[67] Yet in the wake of the controversy, Buck's contract with Vogue was not renewed.[1][7]

She subsequently described her encounter with the Assads in fuller scope in Newsweek, saying that she had not wanted to write the story.[68] The follow-up also generated controversy and was derided on social media.[69] In The Guardian, Homa Khaleeli wrote "[I]t's hard to tell if Buck asked Asma—or Bashar whom she also met—any real questions at all."[70] In Maclean's, Canadian socialite Barbara Amiel pointed out that at the time Buck wrote the original article, Syria was already on the U.S. State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism.[71] Gawker republished Buck's Vogue article in September 2013.[72]

In 2012, PJ Media accorded the article top honors in its first Walter Duranty Awards competition.[73] Six years after it was published, Buck recalled that she was "tainted, like a leper" and that “There was so much opprobrium sticking to me. I was so flayed. My life as I knew it had vanished."[74]

Personal life[edit]

In 1977, Buck married John Heilpern, a journalist and writer; they divorced in the 1980s.[14]


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  6. ^ a b Joan Juliet Buck (June 27, 2012). "Joan Juliet Buck on Being in Awe of Nora Ephron". Newsweek the Daily Beast. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 
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  16. ^ Joan Juliet Buck (March 15, 2010). "Vogue Diaries: Gisele Bundchen". Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
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  18. ^ Joan Juliet Buck, "Tom Stoppard: Kind Heart and Prickly Mind," Vogue, March 1984.
  19. ^ Kelly, Katherine E. index from The Cambridge Companion to Tom Stoppard. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  20. ^ Buck, Joan Juliet. "Carla Bruni: Paris Match". Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
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  22. ^ Joan Juliet Buck, "Live Mike: Interview with Mike Nichols," Vanity Fair, June 1994.
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  31. ^ "Entrepreneur Dasha Zhukova Is Launching A Magazine Because She Can". TheGrindStone. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  32. ^ Helmore, Edward (May 26, 2011). "Dasha, Dasha, Dasha". WSJ. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
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  34. ^ "A Bus Called Wanda". The New York Times. September 21, 2012. 
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  53. ^ "Irina Brook Will Make New York Directorial Debut With Shakespeare's Sister at La Mama". Playbill. 5 Sep 2013. 
  54. ^ "The Talent Show Brand Variety Show: The Shows". The Talent Show. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  55. ^ Wheatley, Chet (November 30, 2015). "Supergirl: "Red Faced" Review". IGN. Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  56. ^ Greyfriars Bobby (1961) on
  57. ^ "Daughter Of The Swan by Joan Juliet Buck 3.82 stars". Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  58. ^ "Daughter Of The Swan by Joan Juliet Buck". Powell's Books. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  59. ^ DM Thomas (August 28, 2004). "DM Thomas: My Hollywood hell | Film". London: The Guardian. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  60. ^ "The Moth: The Ghost of the Rue Jacob". HuffDuffer. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
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  67. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (Aug 26, 2012). "Diplomats' delusion on Damascus". The Washington Post. 
  68. ^ Syria's Fake First Family, The Daily Beast, July 30, 2012
  69. ^ Chozick, Amy (July 31, 2012). "Defense of Ridiculed Vogue Profile of Assad Leads to More Ridicule". The New York Times. 
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