Donald Zec

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Donald Zec
Born (1919-03-12) 12 March 1919 (age 99)
London, UK

Donald Zec OBE (born 12 March 1919) [1] is a British journalist who produced "brilliant and acerbic" writing in the Daily Mirror for 40 years. [2]

<i>Daily Mirror</i> British daily tabloid newspaper owned by Reach plc.

The Daily Mirror is a British national daily tabloid newspaper founded in 1903. It is owned by parent company Reach plc. From 1985 to 1987, and from 1997 to 2002, the title on its masthead was simply The Mirror. It had an average daily print circulation of 716,923 in December 2016, dropping markedly to 587,803 the following year. Its Sunday sister paper is the Sunday Mirror. Unlike other major British tabloids such as The Sun and the Daily Mail, the Mirror has no separate Scottish edition; this function is performed by the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, which incorporate certain stories from the Mirror that are of Scottish significance.


Life and career

His grandfather was a Jewish refugee from Odessa, in Ukraine. His father Simon Zecanovsky settled in London, shortened the family name to Zec, and raised nine daughters and two sons.

Odessa Place in Odessa Oblast, Ukraine

Odessa is the third most populous city of Ukraine and a major tourism center, seaport and transportation hub located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. It is also the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast and a multiethnic cultural center. Odessa is sometimes called the "pearl of the Black Sea", the "South Capital", and "Southern Palmyra". Before the Tsarist establishment of Odessa, an ancient Greek settlement existed at its location as elsewhere along the northwestern Black Sea coast. A more recent Tatar settlement was also founded at the location by Hacı I Giray, the Khan of Crimea in 1440 that was named after him as "Hacıbey". After a period of Lithuanian Grand Duchy control, Hacibey and surroundings became part of the domain of the Ottomans in 1529 and remained there until the empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1792.

Ukraine sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Zec's career in journalism began in 1938 with a three-day trial at the Daily Mirror . Interviewed by Michael Freedland in 2009, he recalled: "I was so embarrassingly bad that no one had the courage to tell me, so I stayed for 40 years." [3] During the war, he served in the London Irish Rifles, returning to the Daily Mirror as a crime reporter. On one occasion, he interviewed the acid-bath murderer John George Haigh in the Onslow Court Hotel. He followed this post by becoming the paper's Royal correspondent, "which I thought was a natural progression", he told Freedland. [3]

Michael Rodney Freedland was a British biographer, journalist and broadcaster of Jewish descent.

London Irish Rifles

The London Irish Rifles (LIR) was a volunteer rifle regiment of the British Army with a distinguished history, and now forms 'D' Company of the London Regiment and is part of the Army Reserve.

Later, he became a journalist writing about film. In the course of his work he interviewed and wrote about many celebrities from the entertainment industry, [4] including Humphrey Bogart, Brigitte Bardot, David Niven, Ingrid Bergman, The Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe. [5]

Humphrey Bogart American actor

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Brigitte Bardot French model, actor, singer and animal rights activist

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David Niven English actor and novelist

James David Graham Niven was an English actor, memoirist and novelist. His many roles included Squadron Leader Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, and Sir Charles Lytton in The Pink Panther. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Separate Tables (1958).

In October 1967 he won a National Press Award as Descriptive Writer of the year, the citation spoke of his "bland outrageousness and a deadly certainty of aim". Extending his range, he interviewed major political figures such as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer Selwyn Lloyd, the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the (then) leader of the Opposition Margaret Thatcher, Lord Mountbatten of Burma and the former Californian Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967, commenting: "it is a whimsical if not uneasy thought that an ex-movie star of many films that escape instant recollection could one day become President of the United States of America". In 1970 Zec was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Journalism.

Selwyn Lloyd Politician

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Harold Wilson former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

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Margaret Thatcher former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

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The many books Donald Zec has written include biographies of the Queen Mother, [6] Sophia Loren, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor and Lee Marvin. Zec's biography of his brother, the political cartoonist Philip Zec, entitled Don't Lose It Again! The Life and Wartime Cartoons of Philip Zec, was published in 2005. [7] [8]

Sophia Loren Italian actress

Sofia Villani Scicolone,, known professionally as Sophia Loren, is an Italian film actress and singer. Encouraged to enroll in acting lessons after entering a beauty pageant, Loren began her film career in 1950 at age 16. She appeared in several bit parts and minor roles in the early part of the decade, until her five-picture contract with Paramount in 1956 launched her international career. Notable film appearances around this time include The Pride and the Passion, Houseboat, and It Started in Naples.

Barbra Streisand American singer, actress, writer, film producer, and director

Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and filmmaker. In a career spanning six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of entertainment and has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award – though only three were competitive awards – and is one of only two artists in that group who have also won a Peabody.

Elizabeth Taylor British-American actress

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was a British-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s, and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She continued her career successfully into the 1960s, and remained a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend.

He was married for 66 years. After his wife died in 2006 he took up painting, mainly with acrylic paint. In October 2012 he won The Oldie magazine's inaugural British Artists Award (OBA) for artists over the age of 60. [9] [10] [11] A year later his portrait of his late paternal grandfather (entitled "My Grandfather, the Pious Patriarch") was presented at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, jointly winning the Hugh Casson Prize for Drawing. [12] [13]

Donald Zec now lives in Holland Park, London.


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  1. Noble, Peter (1970). British film and television year book. Cinema TV Today. p. 394.
  2. Bill Hagerty, "Fame that won't live forever" Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine ., Press Gazette , 14 March 2003
  3. 1 2 Michael Freedland "Donald Zec: He scooped them all...", The Jewish Chronicle, 26 March 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  4. "Donld Zec's Celebrity Scrapbook", The Jewish Chronicle Online, 24 March 2009.
  5. "Donald Zec and Marilyn",, 1 February 2012.
  6. "Beautiful Snob", Los Angeles Times, 22 July 1973.
  7. "Don't Lose it Again!" (extract), History Today, 18 May 2005.
  8. Review by Dr Bex Lewis (2005–6) Archived 17 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine .
  9. "The Oldie's oldie: 93-year-old wins magazine's artist award", London Evening Standard, 17 October 2012.
  10. "2012 OBA – Former Daily Mirror journalist wins first OBA award" Archived 7 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine ., The Oldie.
  11. "93 year-old Donald Zec Wins Oldie British Artists Award (OBA): Oldest Entrant to The Oldie British Artists Award Declared 2012 Winner", ArtsLife, 17 October 2012.
  12. Sharon Wheaton, "improvement at Royal Academy", RA Summer Show, 17 June 2013, p. 20.
  13. 245th Summer Exhibition Prizewinners: The Hugh Casson Drawing Prize – "Cat. 626 Donald Zec, My Grandfather, the Pious Patriarch". Royal Academy of Arts, Annual Report 2013, Appendix 4, p. 43.