Russell Wayne Baker
August 14, 1925
Loudoun County, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||January 21, 2019 93) (aged|
Leesburg, Virginia, U.S.
|Education||Johns Hopkins University|
|Occupation||Journalist, writer, narrator|
(m. 1950;died 2015)
|Awards||Pulitzer Prize (1979, 1983)|
Russell Wayne Baker (August 14, 1925 – January 21, 2019) was an American journalist, narrator, writer of Pulitzer Prize-winning satirical commentary and self-critical prose, and author of Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography Growing Up (1983).He was a columnist for The New York Times from 1962 to 1998, and hosted the PBS show Masterpiece Theatre from 1992 to 2004. The Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred, 1994 stated: "Baker, thanks to his singular gift of treating serious, even tragic events and trends with gentle humor, has become an American institution."
The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) Joseph Pulitzer who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal.
An autobiography is a self-written account of the life of oneself. The word "autobiography" was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical The Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid, but condemned it as "pedantic". However, its next recorded use was in its present sense, by Robert Southey in 1809. Despite only being named early in the nineteenth century, first-person autobiographical writing originates in antiquity. Roy Pascal differentiates autobiography from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing by noting that "[autobiography] is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, while the diary, however reflective it may be, moves through a series of moments in time". Autobiography thus takes stock of the autobiographer's life from the moment of composition. While biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints, autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. The memoir form is closely associated with autobiography but it tends, as Pascal claims, to focus less on the self and more on others during the autobiographer's review of his or her life.
Growing Up is a 1982 memoir by author and journalist Russell Baker. An autobiography chronicling Baker's youth in Virginia and his mother's strength of character during the Great Depression, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1983.
Born in Loudoun County, Virginia,Baker was the son of Benjamin Rex Baker and Lucy Elizabeth (née Robinson). At the age of eleven, as a self-professed "bump on a log," Baker decided to become a writer since he figured "what writers did couldn't even be classified as work." After leaving school, he took a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University in 1942, studying for a year before leaving to join the Navy as a trainee pilot. He left in 1945, continuing his degree in English at Johns Hopkins University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1947.
Loudoun County is located in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. In 2018, the population was estimated at 406,850, making it Virginia's third-most populous county. Loudoun County's seat is Leesburg. Loudoun County is part of the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest —of which half financed the establishment of Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time. Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution's first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research. Adopting the concept of a graduate school from Germany's ancient Heidelberg University, Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. Over the course of several decades, the university has led all U.S. universities in annual research and development expenditures. In fiscal year 2016, Johns Hopkins spent nearly $2.5 billion on research.
Shortly after leaving college, Baker took a job at The Baltimore Sun as a night police reporter, working his way up to be sent to London as a correspondent for the paper in 1952, and then White House Correspondent shortly thereafter.
The Baltimore Sun is the largest general-circulation daily newspaper based in the American state of Maryland and provides coverage of local and regional news, events, issues, people, and industries. Founded in 1837, the newspaper is owned by Tribune Publishing.
A correspondent or on-the-scene reporter is usually a journalist or commentator for magazines, or more speaking, an agent who contributes reports to a newspaper, or radio or television news, or another type of company, from a remote, often distant, location. A foreign correspondent is stationed in a foreign country. The term "Correspondent" refers to the original practice of filing news reports via postal letter. The largest networks of correspondents belong to ARD (Germany) and BBC (UK).
After covering the White House, United States Congress, and the United States Department of State for The New York Times for eight years, Baker wrote the nationally syndicated Observer column for the newspaper from 1962 to 1998; initially oriented toward politics, the column began to encompass other subjects after he relocated to New York City in 1974. During his long career as an essayist, journalist, and biographer, he was a regular contributor to national periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine , Sports Illustrated , The Saturday Evening Post , and McCalls . He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993.
The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers.
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.
The United States Department of State (DOS), commonly referred to as the State Department, is a federal executive department that is equivalent to the foreign ministry of other countries, advising the U.S. President on foreign policy and conducting international relations. It was established in 1789 as the nation's first executive department.
Baker wrote or edited seventeen books. Baker's first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to him for distinguished commentary for his Observer columns (1979) and the second one was for his autobiography, Growing Up (1982); he is one of only six people to have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for both Arts & Letters (for his autobiography) and Journalism (for his column). He wrote a sequel to his autobiography in 1989, called The Good Times. His other works include An American in Washington (1961), No Cause for Panic (1964), Poor Russell’s Almanac (1972), Looking Back: Heroes, Rascals, and Other Icons of the American Imagination (2002), and various anthologies of his columns.He edited the anthologies The Norton Book of Light Verse (1986) and Russell Baker's Book of American Humor (1993).
Baker wrote the libretto for the 1979 musical play Home Again, Home Again, starring Ronny Cox, with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Barbara Fried,choreography by Onna White, and direction by Gene Saks. After an unsuccessful tryout at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, the show closed in Toronto and never made it to Broadway. "That was a great experience," Baker said in a 1994 interview with the Hartford Courant. "Truly dreadful, but fun. I was sorry [the show] folded because I was having such a good time. But once is enough."
Daniel Ronald Cox is an American actor, singer-songwriter, and storyteller. His best-known roles include Drew Ballinger in Deliverance (1972), George Apple in Apple's Way (1974–75), Lieutenant Andrew Bogomil in Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Richard "Dick" Jones in RoboCop (1987), and Vilos Cohaagen in Total Recall (1990). He plays over 100 shows at festivals and theaters each year with his band.
Cy Coleman was an American composer, songwriter, and jazz pianist.
Onna White was a Canadian choreographer and dancer, nominated for eight Tony Awards.
In 1993, Baker replaced Alistair Cooke as the regular host of the PBS television series Masterpiece Theatre . "That's talking-head stuff," he said. "Television is harder than I thought it was. I can't bear to look at myself. I fancied that I was an exceedingly charming, witty and handsome young man, and here's this fidgeting old fellow whose hair is parted on the wrong side."
In 1995, he narrated the Ric Burns documentary The Way West for PBS' American Experience.
In 1950, Baker married Miriam Nash, who died in 2015. The couple had four children, Allen, Kasia, Michael, and Phyllis.
Baker died at his home in Leesburg, Virginia, on January 21, 2019, after complications following a fall.He was 93.
Neil Postman, in the preface to Conscientious Objections, described Baker as "like some fourth century citizen of Rome who is amused and intrigued by the Empire's collapse but who still cares enough to mock the stupidities that are hastening its end. He is, in my opinion, a precious national resource, and as long as he does not get his own television show, America will remain stronger than Russia." (1991, xii)
George Simon Kaufman was an American playwright, theatre director and producer, humorist, and drama critic. In addition to comedies and political satire, he wrote several musicals for the Marx Brothers and others. One play and one musical that he wrote won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama: You Can't Take It with You, and Of Thee I Sing. He also won the Tony Award as a Director, for the musical Guys and Dolls.
The Pulitzer Prize for Biography is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It has been presented since 1917 for a distinguished biography, autobiography or memoir by an American author or co-authors, published during the preceding calendar year. Thus it is one of the original Pulitzers, for the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year.
The Pulitzer Prize for Commentary is one of the fourteen American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Journalism. It has been presented since 1970. Finalists have been announced from 1980, ordinarily two others beside the winner.
Thomas Loren Friedman is an American political commentator and author. He is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Friedman currently writes a weekly column for The New York Times. He has written extensively on foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues.
The Hartford Courant is the largest daily newspaper in the U.S. state of Connecticut, and is often recognized as the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States. A morning newspaper serving most of the state north of New Haven and east of Waterbury, its headquarters is on Broad Street are a short walk from the state capitol. It reports regional news with a chain of bureaus in smaller cities and a series of local editions. It also operates CTNow, a free local weekly newspaper and website.
Michael Barnicle is an American print and broadcast journalist, and a social and political commentator. He is a senior contributor and the veteran columnist on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He is also seen on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and NBC's Today Show with news/feature segments. He has been a regular contributor to the local Boston television news magazine, Chronicle on WCVB-TV, since 1986. Barnicle has also appeared on PBS's Charlie Rose, the PBS NewsHour, CBS's 60 Minutes, ESPN, and HBO sports programming.
Mark Van Doren was an American poet, writer and critic. He was a scholar and a professor of English at Columbia University for nearly 40 years, where he inspired a generation of influential writers and thinkers including Thomas Merton, Robert Lax, John Berryman, Whittaker Chambers, and Beat Generation writers such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He was literary editor of The Nation, in New York City (1924–1928), and its film critic, 1935 to 1938.
Thomas William Shales is an American writer and critic of television programming and operations. He is best known as the television critic for The Washington Post, for which Shales received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1988. He also writes a column for the television news trade publication NewsPro, published by Crain Communications.
Anna Marie Quindlen is an American author, journalist, and opinion columnist.
David Gaub McCullough is an American author, narrator, popular historian, and lecturer. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award.
Geoffrey Champion Ward is an American editor, author, historian and writer of scripts for American history documentaries for public television. He is the author or co-author of 18 books, including five companion books to the documentaries he has written. He is the winner of five Emmy Awards.
Burton Jesse Hendrick, born in New Haven, Connecticut, was an American author. While attending Yale University, Hendrick was editor of both The Yale Courant and The Yale Literary Magazine. He received his BA in 1895 and his master's in 1897 from Yale. After completing his degree work, Hendrick became editor of the New Haven Morning News. In 1905, after writing for The New York Evening Post and The New York Sun, Hendrick left newspapers and became a "muckraker" writing for McClure's Magazine. His "The Story of Life-Insurance" exposé appeared in McClure's in 1906. Following his career at McClure's, Hendrick went to work in 1913 at Walter Hines Page's World's Work magazine as an associate editor. In 1919, Hendrick began writing biographies, when he was the ghostwriter of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story for Henry Morgenthau, Sr.
James Patrick Murray was an American sportswriter. He worked at the Los Angeles Times from 1961 until his death in 1998, and his column was nationally syndicated.
Jon Ellis Meacham is a writer, reviewer, and presidential biographer. A former Executive Editor and Executive Vice President at Random House, he is a contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor to Time magazine, and a former Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek. He is the author of several books. He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. He is currently the Rogers Chair for the Study of the Presidency and a distinguished visiting professor in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.
The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1979.
Karen Russell is an American novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She was also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2013. In 2009 the National Book Foundation named her a 5 under 35 honoree.
Richard Ben Cramer was an American journalist and writer.
David Leonhardt is an American journalist and columnist. His column appears in The New York Times on Tuesdays, and he also writes a daily e-mail newsletter, which bears his own name. As of October 2018, he also co-hosts a weekly Opinion podcast titled “The Argument”, with Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg.
T. J. Stiles is an American biographer who lives in Berkeley, California. His book The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt won a National Book Award and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. His book Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History.
Etheleen Renee "E. R." Shipp is an American journalist and columnist. As a columnist for the New York Daily News, she was awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for "her penetrating columns on race, welfare and other social issues."
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| Host of Masterpiece Theatre |