Famous Marines: Art Buchwald

Famous Marines

In the News and Serving Their Community

imgART BUCHWALD, Journalist

(Reprinted from Tribune Media Services, 2003)

Art Buchwald, son of a curtain manufacturer, was born in 1925 in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. He grew up in Hollis, N.Y., a residential community of the Queens Borough of New York City. He attended elementary school at Public School No. 35 and went on to Jamaica High School and Forest Hills High School, both in Queens ? but did not graduate. When he was 17 he left home to join the Marines.

From October 1942 to October 1945, he served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an enlisted man. He was discharged from the service as a sergeant. Attached to the Fourth Marine Air Wing, he spent two years in the Pacific.

On his return to civilian life, Buchwald enrolled at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to study liberal arts under the G.I. Bill of Rights. At USC he was managing editor of the campus magazine Wampus; he wrote a column for the college newspaper, the Daily Trojan, and a variety show called ?No Love Atoll.?

In 1948 he left USC, without taking his degree, and using the $250 check he had received as a war bonus he bought a one-way ticket to Paris. When his money ran out, Buchwald got a job as a correspondent for Variety magazine in Paris. In January 1949, he took a sample column, on which he had been working, 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?s columns soon began to recruit readers on both sides of the Atlantic. On Aug. 24, 1959, Time magazine, in reviewing the history of the European edition of The Herald Tribune, was able to report that Buchwald?s column had achieved an ?institutional quality.? The column in which Buchwald explains Thanksgiving Day to the French people in 1953 is reprinted every year in late November with ceremonial regularity.

Although Paris was usually his beat, Buchwald would go almost anywhere and do almost anything to gather raw material for his columns. He has marched in a May Day parade in East Berlin, chased goats up and down mountains in Yugoslavia. He once traveled all the way to Turkey to get a firsthand impression of a Turkish bath. On one occasion Buchwald made a three-week trip to the Soviet Union in a limousine driven by a uniformed chauffeur.

In the late summer of 1957 Buchwald inserted the following advertisement in the classified column of the Times (London): ?Would like to hear from people who dislike Americans and their reasons why. Please write Box R. 543.? The ad drew 209 replies, ranging from the most terse of answers to lengthy tributes to Americans. The replies furnished Buchwald with material for two columns.

Buchwald returned to the United States in 1962 and is at present syndicated by Tribune Media Services. His column appears in some 300 newspapers from Enid, Okla., to Israel.

Buchwald has written some 30 books including Leaving Home (Putnam, 1994); I?ll Always Have Paris (Putnam, 1995); I think I Don?t Remember (Putnam, 1987; and Stella in Heaven: Almost a Novel (Putnam, 2000).

For recreation Buchwald prefers ?anything that doesn?t require physical exercise. I think exercise is dangerous. People should stay in the horizontal position as much as possible.? He enjoys his work more than his hobbies: chess, collecting chess sets, photography, tennis and going to the racetrack. ?I love my work,? he says. ?I wouldn?t do anything else.?

Buchwald was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Outstanding Commentary in 1982 and in 1986 was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Buchwald has three children and lives Washington, D.C.