---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Jan 19, 2007 12:16 AM
Subject: IN THE NEWS-THE PULITZER WINNING COLUMNIST ART BUCHWALD DIES
Jan 19, 2007
WASHINGTON-- Satirist Art Buchwald, who turned his infectious wit on
the life of Washington and then on his own failing health, is dead at
Buchwald's son, Joel, said his father passed away quietly at his home
late Wednesday with his family.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author chronicled the life
and times of Washington for four decades, then cheated death and
laughed in its face in a richly lived final year that medical science
said he wasn't supposed to get.
Buchwald had refused dialysis treatments for his failing kidneys a
year ago and was expected to die within weeks of moving to a hospice
on Feb. 7, where he held court as a parade of luminaries and friends
came by to say farewell. But he lived to return home and even write a
book about his experiences.
"I'm having a swell time," he said of his dying. "The best time of my life."
"The last year he had the opportunity for a victory lap and I think he
was really grateful for it," said son Joel Buchwald. "He had an
opportunity to write his book about his experience and he went out the
way he wanted to go, on his own terms."
Neither Buchwald nor his doctors could say how he survived in such
grave condition, and he didn't seem to mind. "Nobody's been able to
really explain what's going on because I'm not taking dialysis,"
Buchwald told The Associated Press in May. "I have to thank my
He described his earlier decision to forgo dialysis and let himself
die as a liberating one. "The thing is, when you make your choice,
then a lot of the stress is gone. Everything is great because you
accept that you are the one who made the choice."
But when death didn't come nearly as quickly as expected, Buchwald
wrote that he had to scrap his funeral plans, rewrite his living will,
buy a new cell phone and get on with his improbable life. "I also had
to start worrying about Bush again," he deadpanned.
Buchwald was called the "Wit of Washington" during his years here and
his name became synonymous with political satire. He was well known,
too, for his wide smile and affinity for cigars.
Among his more famous witticisms: "If you attack the establishment
long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it."
Jack Valenti, former chairman and chief executive of the Motion
Picture Association of America, recalled Buchwald's humor. The two had
been friends since 1964.
"What Art had was the gift of laughter -- that's a rarity today,"
Valenti told AP on Thursday. "He could take simple ordinary things and
make you laugh. God knows all of us need that. I've been with him in
all kinds of situations, good and bad, triumph and tragedy but Art
always was able to see a little wisp of humor in everything."
Ben Bradlee, former Washington Post executive editor and a friend of
Buchwald for 60 years, said in an interview that Buchwald was "the
humorist of his generation." Buchwald was a Paris nightlife columnist
in the 1950s when he met Bradlee, whose paper carried Buchwald's
columns in later years.
Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts said in a statement: "Art was the
Mark Twain of our time.
"For decades there was no better way to start the day than to open the
morning paper to Art's column, laugh out loud and learn all over again
to take the issues seriously in the world of politics, but not take
yourself too seriously," he said. "The special art of Art Buchwald was
to make even the worst of times better."
His syndicated column at one point appeared in more than 500
newspapers worldwide. It appeared twice a week in publications
including The Washington Post and was distributed by Tribune Media
But he was best known in that realm for the court battle over "Coming
to America." A judge ruled that Paramount Pictures had stolen
Buchwald's idea and in 1992 awarded $900,000 to him and a partner.
The case dated to a 1983 Paramount contract for rights to Buchwald's
story "King for a Day." The studio had dropped its option to make such
a movie in 1985, three years before releasing "Coming to America"
without credit to Buchwald.
Both stories involved an African prince who comes to America in search
of a bride.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Oct. 25, 1925, Buchwald had a difficult
childhood. He and his three sisters were sent to foster homes when
their mother was institutionalized for mental illness. Their father, a
drapery salesman, suffered Depression-era financial troubles and
couldn't afford them.
At 17, Buchwald ran away to join the Marines and spent 3 1/2 years in
the Pacific during World War II, attaining the rank of sergeant and
spending much of his time editing a Corps newspaper.
Despite his successes, the perennial funny man said he battled
depression in 1963 and 1987.
A family spokeswoman said Buchwald would be interred at the Vineyard
Haven Cemetery in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where his wife Ann is