Categotry Archives: Writers/Editors


Doug Marlette

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Categories: Artists, Media, Writers/Editors

Doug Marlette, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, educator and author, died on July 10 in a car accident. He was 57.
Born in North Carolina, Marlette became interested in cartooning when he was in the first grade. Consumed by the need to create, he ignored the advice of a counselor who once warned him that artists “were a dime a dozen,” and studied art and philosophy at Florida State University. Marlette launched his artistic career in 1972 drawing editorial cartoons for The Charlotte Observer. He later worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Newsday, the Tallahassee Democrat and the Tulsa World.
Over the course of the next 35 years, Marlette created enough cartoons to fill half a dozen books. He also won the National Headliners Award for Consistently Outstanding Editorial Cartoons three times, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for editorial cartooning twice and the First Prize in the John Fischetti Memorial Cartoon Competition twice. The only cartoonist ever awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, Marlette even won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his work at the Observer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Not everyone appreciated his perspective however. In 2002, Marlette drew a cartoon that depicted an Arab driving a rental truck with a nuclear weapon on board. The caption read: “What Would Muhammad Drive?” Soon after the cartoon’s publication, Marlette received more than 20,000 e-mails, including numerous death threats, and was denounced on the front page of the Saudi Arab News by the secretary general of the Muslim World League.
In 1981, Marlette launched Kudzu, a comic strip featuring a teen who dreams of leaving his tiny hometown to become a writer. Syndicated worldwide in hundreds of newspapers, Kudzu strips were also collected into seven volumes. The final strip will be published on Aug. 26.
When he wasn’t creating political and/or humorous cartoons, Marlette penned an ethics column for Esquire and contributed to The New Republic, The Nation, Men’s Journal, The Paris Review, the Columbia Journalism Review and He also co-wrote the screenplay, ‘Ex,’ with Pat Conroy, the bestselling author of “The Prince of Tides.” In 2001, Marlette delved into the fiction realm with the publication of “The Bridge.” The novel was voted Best Book of the Year for Fiction by the Southeast Booksellers Association, and one of the best books of the last five years by BookSense, the American Booksellers Association. His second novel, “Magic Time,” was published in 2006.
Most recently, Marlette taught at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He was inducted into the UNC Journalism Hall of Fame in 2002.
Marlette was riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by John Davenport, a Mississippi high school theater director, when it skidded across a rain-slicked road and smashed into a tree. The cartoonist was visiting Mississippi to help a group of students produce a musical based on his “Kudzu” comic strip. Davenport was not seriously injured in the accident.
On July 12, N.C. Governor Michael F. Easley selected Marlette to posthumously receive the honor of membership to the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the head of that state.
“I always thought it was going to be Doug giving the eulogy at my funeral,” Conroy said at Marlette’s funeral service. “He used to make up eulogies about me. The obituary would start: ‘An unknown writer died on Fripp Island…'”
View Marlette’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoons
Listen to a Tribute From NPR


James Richards

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Categories: Education, Medicine, Writers/Editors

jrichards.jpgDr. James Robert Richards, a renowned veterinarian who dedicated his life to helping cats, died on April 24 from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident. He was 58.

Although he was born in Richmond, Ind., Richards grew up on a farm in Preble County, Ohio. There were no children his age living nearby so he befriended stray cats. The kinship he formed with these felines would affect him for the rest of his life.

Richards earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Berea College in Kentucky, and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Ohio State University. He practiced at several small-animal clinics in Ohio before joining Cornell University in 1991 as the assistant director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Feline Health Center, a leading facility for feline medical research and treatment. Richards was named director six years later. During his tenure, the center conducted research into feline cardiac disease, coronary thrombosis, hyperthyroidism and cancerous growths called sarcomas. Richards was also the director of the Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Feline Consultation and Diagnostic Service, which answers calls from vets and cat owners at 1-800-KITTY-DR.

A past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, Richards regularly appeared on television and radio programs to discuss the best ways to raise and care for cats. He lectured to cat owners’ clubs around the country and served as an adviser to Alley Cat Allies, a trap-neuter-return program to manage populations of feral cats.

Richards served as editor-in-chief of CatWatch, a monthly newsletter published by the Cornell veterinary school, penned the column “Ask Dr. Richards,” and wrote and/or edited numerous books and articles, including the “ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats,” “The Well-Behaved Cat: How to Change Your Cat’s Bad Habits” and “The Cornell Book of Cats.”

In his spare time, he enjoyed motorcycling, bicycling, hiking and kayaking. Richards was riding his motorcycle in Willet, N.Y., on April 22 when he saw a cat in the middle of the road. In an effort to avoid hitting the animal, Richards was thrown from his bike and severely injured. He died two days later. The cat died in the accident as well.

“Jim didn’t know how to say no to a good cause, and was always talking about how there was never enough time to do all the things we wanted to do for cats,” said Lila Miller, ASPCA vice president of Veterinary Outreach. “He was an incredible man — brilliant, compassionate, funny, humble, kind, generous, gracious and dedicated. He was a good friend to the ASPCA, and we all are heartbroken.”

The 19th annual Feline Symposium, scheduled for July 27-29 at the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as a public tribute to Richards.

Listen to an Interview on Steve Dale’s Pet World


Richard Jeni


Categories: Actors, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

rjeni.jpgRichard Jeni, a standup comedian who regularly toured the country and starred in several HBO comedy specials, committed suicide on March 10. He was 49.
Born Richard John Colangelo, the Brooklyn native graduated from Hunter College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Growing up in Bensonhurst, he enjoyed making people laugh by doing Redd Foxx routines. In the 1980s, he adopted the stage name Richard Jeni and began performing his act in small bars and comedy clubs in New York City. Recollections of his Catholic boyhood, commentary about political and social issues and sarcastic observations of his romantic difficulties appealed to audiences and soon he was playing to sold-out crowds all over the country.
Jeni came to national prominence in 1990 with “Richard Jeni: Boy From New York City,” a Showtime special that received three nominations for Cable ACE Awards. When its follow-up, “Crazy From the Heat,” aired two years later, it attracted the highest ratings in the network’s history.
In the early 1990s, Jeni began writing and performing comedy specials for HBO. His show, “Platypus Man,” won a Cable ACE Award for best standup comedy special, and formed the basis for a sitcom of the same name. That program, which ran on UPN, was canceled after one season. Jeni’s final HBO special, “A Big Steaming Pile of Me,” aired during the 2005-2006 season.
When he wasn’t on the road, Jeni regularly performed on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, and later with Jay Leno. He made guest appearances on the TV shows “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Married: With Children,” and wrote material for the 2005 Academy Awards. On the big screen, Jeni earned laughs as Jim Carrey’s best friend in the box office hit, “The Mask,” and landed small roles in “The Aristocrats,” “National Lampoon’s Dad’s Week Off” and “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn.” Jeni also hosted A&E’s “Caroline’s Comedy Hour” for two years, performed at the White House, won an American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Stand-Up and was ranked on Comedy Central’s List of 100 Top Comedians of All Time.
Earlier this year, doctors diagnosed Jeni with clinical depression and suffering from bouts of psychotic paranoia. On the morning of March 10, police responded to a 9-1-1 call from Jeni’s long-time girlfriend, Amy Murphy. When they found the comic in his West Hollywood home, he was alive but gravely injured from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face. Jeni died less than an hour later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
“He was a beautiful person, an incredibly brilliant and talented man, and in the end, unfortunately, I think his brilliance might have played a part in what happened,” Murphy said. “He said he just didn’t believe anything was going to make him get better; he didn’t see it happening.”
Jeni’s MySpace Page
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
Jeni on Political Extremes


Liz Renay

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Categories: Actors, Artists, Criminals, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

lrenay.jpgLiz Renay was a multifaceted woman who experienced life with wild abandonment — and rarely worried about the consequences of her actions.

Born Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins, Renay was raised in Arizona by strict evangelical Christian parents, and a grandmother whom she described as a “hellion.” At 13, Renay ran away from home and hitchhiked to Las Vegas. The voluptuous girl won a Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest and supported herself by working as an underage cocktail waitress, showgirl and size 44DD bra model.

By 18, Renay was supporting her two children, a boy and a girl, as an exotic dancer and movie extra. When Life magazine featured her in a five-page photo spread, she decided to seek her fortune in New York City. There Renay became a high-fashion model, and even appeared on the cover of Esquire magazine. But she fell in with Tony “Cappy” Coppola, the right-hand man of mob boss Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia, and life in the fast lane soon proved a bit too brisk for Renay. When her relationship with Coppola turned violent, she moved to California to become a film star.

Renay appeared in more than two-dozen pictures, mostly B-movies like “Date With Death,” “The Thrill Killers,” “Mark of the Astro-Zombies,” “Desperate Living” and “Dimension in Fear,” and won $1,000 for correctly answering geography questions on Groucho Marx’s TV show, “You Bet Your Life.” In the Hollywood press, she was famed for her beauty and for dating actors and celebrities. The blonde, and sometimes red-headed, bombshell eventually married seven times, divorced five times and widowed twice. She recounted her many flings in the 1992 memoir, “My First 2,000 Men.”

Perhaps her best-known paramour was Hollywood mobster Mickey Cohen. Renay’s relationship with Cohen was closely examined by grand juries on both coasts, and she received a three-year suspended sentence in the late 1950s for perjuring herself at his federal tax evasion trial. When she violated her probation for allegedly disturbing the peace during a photo shoot, Renay was sent to federal prison. During her 27-month incarceration, she ran a prison newspaper and taught art to the other inmates. Renay also painted 150 canvasses in the joint, including one of a centaur surrounded by beautiful women in a garden. The painting sold in 1964 for $10,000.

Renay’s flamboyant nature didn’t fade as she aged. She earned top billing in the 1970s for a string of X-rated pictures, despite the fact that she didn’t participate in the actual sex acts or appear in the nude. Renay penned cookbooks and beauty tips as well as the bestselling autobiography, “My Face for the World to See,” and toured the country in a double striptease act with her daughter, Brenda. In 1982, Brenda committed suicide on her 39th birthday.

In the height of the streaking craze, Renay was the first grandmother to run nude down Hollywood Blvd. The promotional act for a local theatre drew a crowd of thousands, and got her arrested for indecent exposure. Renay was later acquitted when the jury determined that she “was nude, but not lewd.” Several jurors even asked for her autograph after the proceedings ended. During the final years of her life, Renay kept a loaded German Walther under her bed. However, she only shot the gun on the 4th of July to make sure it still worked.

“She was unsinkable, indefatigable, incorrigible, irresistible. Liz was larger than life and had the bust line to prove it,” Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith wrote. “Even as she approached her 80th birthday last spring with her bum hip and other age-related maladies, she still led with her best assets. In the right light, she could still turn heads and charm the chips from casino players’ pockets. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.”

Renay died on Jan. 22 from cardiopulmonary arrest and gastric bleeding. She was 80.


Ed Bradley


Categories: Writers/Editors

ebradley.jpgEdward Rudolph Bradley, Jr., an Emmy Award-winning journalist who appeared on the CBS news program “60 Minutes” for more than a quarter century, died on Nov. 9 from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 65.
Born in Philadelphia, Bradley earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Cheyney State College and taught sixth grade for three-and-a-half years. He developed an interest in radio after meeting Philly disc jockey Georgie Woods at a lecture. Bradley took a tour of Woods’ station and became infatuated with the medium.
Bradley launched his journalism career in 1963 as a news reporter for WDAS-FM. Four years later, he landed a job at WCBS-AM in New York City. In the 1970s, Bradley became a stringer for CBS News, working out of the Paris and Saigon bureaus. He was a shoe-leather journalist, covering the end of the Vietnam War and the Cambodian refugee crisis from the ground. During one report in 1973, Bradley was wounded in the arm and in the back by shrapnel. The soldier standing next to him died in the attack.
Bradley then returned to the United States to cover Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. His reports were so outstanding that CBS promoted him to White House correspondent, making him the first black reporter to cover a sitting president for the network. He later served as a floor correspondent at almost every Democratic and Republican national convention between 1976 and 1996, and anchored both the “CBS Sunday Night News” (1976-1981) and the CBS News magazine show “Street Stories” (1992-1993).
Bradley joined “60 Minutes” during the 1981-82 season. Over the next 25 years, the trailblazing journalist covered the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, reported on the Columbine High School massacre, examined nuclear testing in one Kazakhstan town and revealed the plight of Africans dying of AIDS. His piece, “Town Under Siege,” about a small town battling toxic waste, was named one of the 10 Best Television Programs of 1997 by Time magazine.
During his tenure at “60 Minutes,” Bradley earned a reputation for his noncombative interview style. His intelligent grasp of world events and charming demeanor made his subjects feel comfortable enough to share their innermost thoughts. Comedian George Burns took Bradley to the crypt where his wife, actress Gracie Allen, was interred. Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali played a practical joke on Bradley, which left both of them in stitches. Condemned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh gave his only televised interview to Bradley, and used the Q&A session to described his bitterness over fighting in the Gulf War. Bradley’s favorite interview, however, involved a legendary jazz singer.
“When I get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter asks what have I done to gain entry, I’ll say, ‘Have you seen my Lena Horne interview?'” Bradley once said.
For excellence in reporting, Bradley received 19 Emmy Awards. His final Emmy honored a piece about the reopening of the 50-year-old racial murder case of a young black boy named Emmett Till. Bradley also won four Peabody Awards, a Paul White Award, a Damon Runyon Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Off-camera, Bradley was a die-hard jazzman. He frequently attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and was called the “fifth Neville brother” for his repeat performances with that family of musicians. In recent years, he hosted the radio show “Jazz at Lincoln Center.”
Nearly 2,000 people attended Bradley’s memorial service on Nov. 21 in New York City. There he was remembered by his “60 Minutes” colleagues as well as retired news anchors Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. Former President Bill Clinton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, comedian Bill Cosby and musicians Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, Aaron Neville and Wynton Marsalis also attended the service.
Watch Bradley Discuss His War Experiences
Watch Members of the “60 Minutes” Cast Share Stories About Bradley
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

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