may be mere coincidence (although we doubt that he thinks so), but on October 20, 1925, political humorist Art
Buchwald was born in Mount Vernon, New York, home of the nation's first
president. He attended P.S. 35, Jamaica High School, and forest Hills
High School, but he never received a diploma. Instead, he left home to
enlist in the Marines, where he served honorably in the Pacific
from 1942 to 1945. Although he wasn’t a war hero, he "looked very good
On returning to civilian life, Buchwald enrolled at the University of
Southern California, still lacking his diploma. After three
years, he learned that he could go to Paris on the G.I. Bill of Rights.
He left USC and bought a one-way ticket for France.
While pretending to attend a French language school in the City of Lights, Buchwald landed a
job with Variety magazine. In January, 1949, he took a sample
of one of his columns to the offices of the European edition of the New York Herald
Tribune. Its title was Paris After Dark. He sold the
Tribune on the idea of his writing a regular column about the Parisian
restaurants and nightlife because of the food he had eaten while in the
Marine Corps. They never bothered checking his credentials; and, before
long, Buchwald was one of the best-fed newspaperman in Europe.
At first, Buchwald's column covered the usual Parisian night
scene, but soon he began expanding it to include a humorous column called
"Europe's Lighter Side" (1952). One of his best-known satires from
the period is about a fictional American tourist who tries to win the
"six-minute-Louvre race." Buchwald wrote about him racing from the
Mona Lisa to other famous artworks in the museum, making excellent time
"under perfect conditions, with a smooth floor, excellent lighting, and no
In 1952, the New York-based Tribune decided to syndicate Buchwald's column
nationally, which by then
was being published all throughout Europe, as well as in Paris.
Although his work dealt with another continent, the columns were
well received in America. Buchwald portrayed himself as the Charlie
Chaplin of the international set. He was constantly being thrown out
of parties and off of yachts. He traveled to the Soviet Union in a
chauffeur-driven limousine to let the Soviet people see what a real
capitalist looked like. He went to Africa to find a white hunter so that
he could be considered a true-blue writer like Hemingway.
Buchwald began writing political satire when President Dwight D. Eisenhower
made a trip to France. His witty articles caught the attention of
Eisenhower's press secretary, who called the pieces "unadulterated rot."
Buchwald shot back, "I have been known to write adulterated rot, but never
In 1962, Buchwald decided to return to the United States,
where he took up residence in Washington, D.C., in order to crank out his satire
full-time. He is currently syndicated with the Los Angeles Times
Syndicate, and he continues to write for hundreds of newspapers from Seattle
In 1982, Buchwald won the Pulitzer Prize for his syndicated
column in the category of Outstanding Commentary. Four years later, he
was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His column
currently appears weekly in over 550 newspapers.
once said, "If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough,
they will make you a member of it" and "People are broad-minded. They'll
accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife
beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's
something wrong with him." He also wrote, "The powder is mixed with
water and tastes exactly like powder mixed with water" and "We seem to be
going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday
was better than today. I don't think it was, and I would advise you
not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you're hung
up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one
hell of a time."
To date, Buchwald has written
more than 30
books--including I Think I Don’t Remember (Putnam, 1987); Whose
Rose Garden Is It Anyway? (Putnam, 1989); and Lighten Up, George
(Putnam, 1991). He has also written a play, two children’s books, and
two novels. His most recent novel is Stella in Heaven (Putnam,
2000). His autobiography, Leaving Home, was published by Putnam in
1993. The second volume of his memoirs, I’ll Always Have Paris,
was published by Putnam in 1996. Buchwald’s most recent collection of
We’ll Laugh Again (Putnam, 2002).
Following a stroke in
2000, Buchwald remained hospitalized for two months. He has since
recovered. He and his wife live in Washington, D. C.
Art Buchwald is a self-confessed workaholic who enjoys
"absolutely no hobbies."
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