Art Buchwald, American humorist, Died at 81

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Dead, Arthur “Art” Buchwald on January 17, 2007 at the age of 81, he was an American humorist best known for his long-running column in The Washington Post, which in turn was carried as a syndicated column in many other newspapers.

Born to an Austrian-Hungarian Jewish immigrant family on October 20, 1925, 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.

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 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.”

In 1988, Buchwald made headlines not for his popular column, but for his lawsuit against Paramount Pictures over a script idea.

He believed that his idea was used as the basis for the film Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy. After a lengthy court battle, the two sides reached a settlement in 1995.

Around this time, Buchwald wrote the 1994 memoir Leaving Home.

He again explored his own experiences in I’ll Always Have Paris (1996).

Buchwald’s last book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye (2006), chronicles his time at a hospice after being told he only had a short time to live because of kidney problems.

He defied doctor’s expectations and lived long enough to reflect on his own passing in this work.

Buchwald later wrote about his depression, hoping to share with others the ability to endure such pain.

He also suffered a series of setbacks to his health.

When his kidneys started to fail, he refused dialysis, and instead, prepared for his own death.

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