Art Buchwald Dead at 81

Art Buchwald has died.

Art Buchwald CNN Obit Art Buchwald, who took humorous jabs at Washington politicians in syndicated columns for decades, has died, a close friend said Thursday. He was 81.

Buchwald died late Wednesday, said CNN anchor Kyra Phillips. Buchwald was her mentor for 18 years, and she became a close friend of the family. The unofficial cause of death, she said, was kidney failure. She said Buchwald’s son and daughter-in-law were at his side, “holding his hand. He passed away peacefully.” “In the last few weeks, he knew it was his time,” she said. “He said his good-byes to everybody.” That included his colleagues at the Washington Post, which published his columns after he moved to Washington in the 1960s.

Buchwald suffered a stroke in 2000, and was plagued by kidney and circulation problems, which led doctors to amputate one of his legs below the knee.


Buchwald launched his career as a columnist in 1949 in Paris, where he wrote about the light side of Paris nightlife in the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. He returned to the United States around 1962 and moved to Washington, where he began writing columns filled with political satire for The Washington Post.

Some of Buchwald’s observations:

  • During the Watergate scandal, Buchwald explained that the sound in the 18 1/2-minute gap in the White House tapes actually was Nixon humming.
  • “Just when you think there’s nothing to write about, Nixon says, ‘I am not a crook.’ Jimmy Carter says, ‘I have lusted after women in my heart.’ President Reagan says, ‘I have just taken a urinalysis test, and I am not on dope.'”
  • “Have you ever seen a candidate talking to a rich person on television?”
  • “Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was.”

Buchwald won a Pulitzer Prize for outstanding commentary in 1982, and in 1986 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He began writing columns, later syndicated, for The Washington Post in the late 1960s.

The humorist authored dozens of books, including two memoirs, “Leaving Home” (1993) and “I’ll Always Have Paris” (1996). He also wrote “Paris After Dark” (1950), “Son of the Great Society” (1961), “Washington Is Leaking” (1976) and “While Reagan Slept” (1983).

Buchwald and producer Alain Bernheim filed a lawsuit in 1988 against Paramount Pictures, contending the company used Buchwald’s script idea as the basis for the movie “Coming to America,” without giving them credit or profits. Buchwald won the case.

Rest in peace.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    I found Buchwald to be unamusing around the mid-60s. After that, I simply skipped over his column.

    Sorry to see him go and all that, but my life is undiminished.