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The son of Jewish parents – an Austrian father and Hungarian mother who had moved to New York, Art Buchwald had a very difficult childhood that included being raised in orphanages (including a Seventh Day Adventist orphanage) after his mother fell ill and was sent to an institution. He grew up to become a writer and became known for his political column which ran for many years in the Washington Post and was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Buchwald launched his career in Paris as a young man, following his service in the Marines and subsequent education at USC (he didn’t receive a degree because the university learned that he hadn’t completed high school):

Mr. Buchwald decided to continue his education in Paris. “My dream was to follow in the steps of Hemingway, Elliot Paul and Gertrude Stein,” he wrote. “I wanted to stuff myself with baguettes and snails, fill my pillow with rejection slips and find a French girl named Mimi who believed that I was the greatest writer in the world.”

Now, who among us didn’t share that particular dream?!

With respect to his Judaism, USA Today quotes his as follows:

He doesn’t invest a lot of time contemplating the afterlife. It’s not a Jewish thing, he says. He hews to the fundamental Torah teaching that “It’s what you do on earth and the good deeds you do on earth that are important.”

“I think I don’t believe in any of the gods they are shoving down my throat. I hate the organized religions that are telling me what God wants,” he says of people who write him preachy letters on how to ensure a place in eternity.

He did love his wife, Ann McGarry, of 40 years (they separated). To those of you looking at the name suspiciously, get over it, she was Catholic. They raised three adopted children and on the basis of Buchwald’s comment about organized religion above, my guess is they may not identify themselves as being Jewish.

The Washington Post has an archive of 432 Art Buchwald columns. For the past several months, he’s been focused on his physical decline. He was 81 years old.

The Ny Times obit

Wikipedia on Buchwald

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About the author

themiddle

7 Comments

  • Just a lovely guy, a prince among men. We’ll not see his like again. A very fast writer from doing deadlines for 55 years, he could & did write on almost anything. Most were at least a bit funny. A few were jems& classics that people carried with them for years in their wallets. When he was good, he was that good. He wrote all the time, several books, essays etc. He got his start with the IHT, way back when it was a refuge for real writing. Real writing. It really mattered once. It could make you famous, and drag you out of abject poverty. Grant you riches & friends, all for making people chuckle over their morning paper and feel slightly better about the depressing news of the day. There’s really no one that will take his place now that he’s gone. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • Not sure what you mean by get over it. Why, this is a pro-Jewish site I thought.

    Also, in retrospect, don’t see where he’s that funny.

    “How much is that in Dollars” ?, so that i s so hilarious?

  • What a loss. How much happiness and morning chuckles he gave to so many people. Especially during the Nixon years. He was so creative, and his parodies were so well crafted.

    And tell me… what a family. His son built an extra wing on the family house to care for him, and took him home from a hospice so that they could spend the SUmmer in MV and then back in the DC area til this week.

    As for mishpacha…

    Check out the July section on

    http://edgememoirs.blogspot.com/2004_07_01_edgememoirs_archive.html

    for a pic at a recent Jewish simcha.

  • p.s. — by the way.. i recall from one of his books, that although his father had to send him to an 7th Day Adventist orphanage after his mother was institutionalized… after he visited and found Art singing a song about Jesus, he removed him and put him in a more Jewish home for orphaned children

  • Yours is a great blog. Glad to have found it. I’m the founder of a non-profit website called The Remembering Site. We make it easy for anyone, anywhere to write their life stories. I’m posting comments on blogs that talk about Art Buchwald who recently published a great memoir, To Soon To Say Goodbye. Grateful if you could profile us on your blog to encourage your readers to write their biography/memoir at The Remembering Site. We will all die … but will we all take the time to write our life stories?

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