Art Buchwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and humor writer, died Jan. 17 of kidney failure at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 81.
Buchwald studied journalism at USC in the late 1940s and was a columnist for the Daily Trojan. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1993.
In the mid-1980s, he established the Art Buchwald Scholarship, which is given annually on April Fool’s Day to a student selected for humor writing. According to Buchwald, the winning student “should be anti-establishment and contemptuous of the scholarship he or she is receiving.…If the person is on probation for something that he or she wrote, that should be considered a plus.”
Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication, said: “Art Buchwald was a dear friend and a tremendous supporter of students at the USC Annenberg School. He was an exceptional journalist whose insight into national and international affairs was both illuminating and entertaining.”
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Buchwald and his sisters spent their childhood in foster homes. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17 and served in World War II.
He later dropped out of college and moved to Paris in the late 1940s, where he became a correspondent for Variety and also wrote a column about Parisian nightlife. In 1951, he began another column, “Mostly About People,” in which he interviewed the city’s celebrities.
Buchwald returned to the United States in 1962 and began writing a political satire column in Washington, D.C., earning the nickname, the “Wit of Washington.” His syndicated column appeared in more than 500 newspapers nationwide.
In 1982, Buchwald won the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding commentary, and in 1986 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Buchwald was the author of more than 30 books, including memoirs Leaving Home and I’ll Always Have Paris, as well as Paris After Dark, Washington Is Leaking and While Reagan Slept. In 1970, he wrote the Broadway play Sheep on the Runway.
Buchwald wrote his final book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, after deciding to end his kidney dialysis in Feb. 2006, choosing instead to enter a hospice. He defied odds and lived another year, during which time he continued writing and recorded his own video obituary.
Buchwald was preceded in death by his wife, Stella. He is survived by son Joel, daughters Jennifer and Connie, sisters Edith Jaffee and Doris Kahme, and five grandchildren.