One of the most popular Southern humorists of the latter half of the 20th century, Lewis Grizzard was perhaps a little too down-home and opinionated to translate as universally as Mark Twain did, but his newspaper columns, numerous books, and live performances made him one of the region's best-loved writers. Lewis McDonald Grizzard, Jr. was born October 20, 1947, in Fort Benning, GA; his father, an Army captain, abandoned the family when Grizzard was very young, and he moved with his mother to Moreland, GA, the small town he would frequently return to in his writings. Grizzard attended the University of Georgia, and at age 23 became the executive sports editor at the Atlanta Journal, the youngest person ever to hold the post. He moved on to become the sports editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, but eventually tired of life in the north and returned to the Journal, where he began writing a regular column at his editor's suggestion. It proved wildly popular, leading to national syndication, and collections of Grizzard's columns began hitting the New York Times' Bestseller List during the '80s. Grizzard also began writing occasional books apart from his newspaper columns, and took frequent performance tours, blending standup comedy with his typically southern storytelling. Some of those gigs were recorded and released as comedy albums, a discography that was augmented by Grizzard's many books on tape readings. Grizzard had to curtail his public appearances in the early '90s as a congenital heart valve defect began to take its toll on his health. He underwent four open heart surgeries in all, and passed away on March 20, 1994, at the age of 47.
Share this page