Skip to comments.Columnist Molly Ivins dies
Posted on 01/31/2007 3:53:45 PM PST by lunarbicep
Molly Ivins, whose biting columns mixed liberal populism with an irreverent Texas wit, died at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at her home in Austin after an up-and-down battle with breast cancer she had waged for seven years. She was 62.
Ms. Ivins, the Star-Telegrams political columnist for nine years ending in 2001, had written for the New York Times, the Dallas Times-Herald and Time magazine and had long been a sought-after pundit on the television talk-show circuit to provide a Texas slant on issues ranging from President Bushs pedigree to the culture wars rooted in the 1960s.
"She was magical in her writing," said Mike Blackman, a former Star-Telegram executive editor who hired Ms. Ivins at the newspapers Austin bureau in 1992, a few months after the Times-Herald ceased publication. "She could turn a phrase in such a way that a pretty hard-hitting point didnt hurt so bad."
A California native who moved to Houston as a young child with her family, Ms. Ivins was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Two years later after enduring a radical mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy, Ms. Ivins was given a 70 percent chance of remaining cancer-free for five years. At the time, she said she liked the odds.
But the cancer recurred in 2003, and again last year. In recent weeks, she had suspended her twice-weekly syndicated column, allowing guest writers to use the space while she underwent further treatment. She made a brief return to writing in mid-January, urging readers to resist President Bushs plan to increase the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. She likened her call to an old-fashioned "newspaper crusade."
"We are the people who run this country," Ms Ivins said in the column published in the Jan. 14 edition of the Star-Telegram. "We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war.
"Raise hell," she continued. "Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know were for them and are trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge."
She ended the piece by endorsing the peace march in Washington scheduled for Saturday. 01-27 "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!' " she wrote.
The spice of Texas
Born Mary Tyler Ivins on Aug. 30, 1944, in Monterey, Calif., Ms. Ivins was raised in the upscale River Oaks section of Houston. She earned her journalism degree at elite Smith College in Massachusetts in 1965. From there she ventured to Minnesota, taking a job as a police reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune.
Growing weary of the winters in the Upper Great Lakes and missing the spice of Texas food and its politics, Ms. Ivins moved to Austin to become co-editor of the Texas Observer, long considered the states liberal conscience.
Nadine Eckhardt, the former wife of the late Texas novelist Billy Lee Bramer and who later married former U.S. Rep. Bob Eckhardt of Houston, said Ivins soon made herself a fixture in the Austin political and cocktail party scene in the early 1970s.
"Thats where she became the Molly Ivins as weve come to know her," said Eckhardt, an Ivins friend for nearly four decades. "The Observer had such wonderful writers doing such wonderful stories at the time, and Molly was always right in the middle of everything."
Her writing flair caught the attention of the New York Times, which hired her to cover city hall, then later moved her to the statehouse bureau in Albany. Later, she was assigned to the Times Rocky Mountain bureau in Denver.
Even though she wrote the Times obituary for Elvis Presley in 1977, Ms. Ivins said later that she and the sometimes stodgy Times proved to be a mismatch. In a 2002 interview with the Star-Telegram, Ms. Ivins recalled that she would write about something that "squawked like a $2 fiddle" only to have a Times editor rewrite it to say "as an inexpensive instrument." Ms Ivins said she would mention a "beer belly" and The Times would substitute "a protuberant abdomen.
So Ms. Ivins returned to Austin in 1982 to become a columnist for the Dallas Times-Herald and reconnecting with such political figures as Ann Richards, who would later become governor, and Bob Bullock, then the hard-drinking state comptroller who later wielded great power as lieutenant governor.
The column provided Ms. Ivins the freedom to express her views with the colorful language that would become her trademark. She called such figures as Ross Perot, former U.S. Sen. John Tower and ex-Gov. Bill Clements "runts with attitudes." As a candidate for governor, George W. Bush became "Shrub," a nicknamed she never tired of using.
Surprised became "womperjawed." A visibly angry person would "throw a walleyed fit."
Ms. Ivins, who was single and had no children, told readers about her first bout with cancer in a matter-of-fact afterword in an otherwise ordinary column.
"I have contracted an outstanding case of breast cancer, from which I fully intend to recover," she wrote on Dec. 14, 1999. "I dont need get-well cards, but I would like the beloved women readers to do something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done."
Ms. Ivins authored three books and co-authored a fourth. She was a three-time finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and had served on Amnesty Internationals Journalism Network, but the iconoclastic writer often said that her two highest honors were being banned from the conservative campus of Texas A&M University and having the Minneapolis police name their mascot pig after her when she covered the department as a reporter during one of her first jobs in the newspaper business.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Couldn't disagree with her more, but Rest in Peace.
Hateful to the end. RIP.
Rest In Peace, Molly.
Color me surprised.
I'm shocked. I'll echo the comment that I hope she finds some peace finally.
An angry, bitter, Bush hating liberal.....
I have a few nicknames for her but I won't use them now, because I hope I have more class than she did.
Prayers...please be respectful, FReepers.
I'll bite my tounge and leave
Wouldn't wish such a demise on anyone. It truly can be horrible.
Hard to say anything bad about her now that she's gone. Rest in peace, Molly.
Rest in peace, ma'am. Prayers for her family.
Yes, her columns were hard to read for the hate and venom, and she seemed to be a very unhappy woman, but this is sad news.
Spirited opposition keeps us on our toes, gloves up, punch, jab, hook.
She was tough.
Yeah I know all about her history but I still say rest in peace. Cancer is a hard way to die.
Absolutely disagreed with just about everything I ever read of hers (after a while I just stopped reading).
Nevertheless, prayers for her soul and her family.
I've wondered how I would react if we tried Murtha and Kerry for treason and hanged them. I'd be satisfied to say the least.
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