Who is Dick Lemon?
Magazine writing and editing, local politics, family, home, friends, and the West have accounted for ninety percent of my most worthwhile life, and gardening, dinner parties, Italy, charades, and old pop music have eaten up what's left.
I began working with words at age 12 in 1942, when I wrote a story about a fallen American soldier on Guadalcanal, and I have never stopped. Growing up in Providence, R.I., I went to Moses Brown School, Kent, where I founded the literary magazine, and Yale, where I was Chairman of The Yale Record,. America's oldest college humor magazine, and a member of Beta Theta Pi, The Pundits, Torch Honor Society and Wolf's Head Society. After two years on the destroyer USS NEW, I was hired as a reporter for Talk of the Town at The New Yorker, publishing a dozen humorous pieces and poems there. In 1959 I became the movie critic at Newsweek, then TV critic and general writer, and from 1964 to 1969 was a writer/editor at The Saturday Evening Post. When the Post folded I wrote two books for Newsweek and the American Medical Association, and in 1971 became Editor of The New York Daily News Magazine, which won a dozen design and writing awards while I was there. In 1979 I began writing novels at home and stories one day a week for People, then became a full-time Senior Editor, and in 1990 was named Assistant Managing Editor of Entertainment Weekly, then new and struggling. It won Magazine of the Year three years later.
Over these years I've interviewed and written about Jackie Kennedy, The Beatles, Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Natalie Wood, Ben Shahn, Alexander Calder, Anne Bancroft, Sophia Loren, Princess Grace of Monaco, John Cassavetes, Katherine Hepburn, Frederic March, Elaine May, Judy Holliday, Sid Caesar, and Mississippi John Hurt among others, and in 1987 I was the editor of a ground-breaking People cover story on 24 hours in the AIDS crisis in America, the story which gives me the greatest pride.
I've published one novel, The Probity Chorus (Norton), which was nominated for best novel of 1986 by the Westchester Library Association (E.L. Doctorow beat me), and in 1976 I won the N.Y. Newspaper Guild's Page One Award for best feature writing for Confessions of a Small Time Politician. In 1969 I became the first Democrat elected (by 13 votes) to the Bedford, N.Y.,Town Board since 1899 and served two four-year terms, later becoming chairman of the Conservation Board. I'm now a member of the town's Ethics Board and Blue Mountain housing authority and in my 37th straight year in Bedford government. I was chairman of my Yale Class's 5th, 45th, and 50th reunions and have been a member of its Class Council for 53 years.
Molly Robbins, a Sarah Lawrence junior, and I married three days after my Yale graduation and in 1971 she graduated, got her Master's, and began a career as a school guidance counselor in Port Chester, NY. We built our architect-designed house in Bedford in 1963 and now also own a house in Sebastopol, CA., where son Ted and his wife Heidi live and make their Littorai wine right next door. Our son Ben is an actor turned investment advisor in Los Feliz, LA, his wife Fionn is a fabric conservator at The Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, and we have two grandaughters and three grandsons.
I retired from Entertainment Weekly in 1996 and since then have written 14 books, which mushroomed into 34 mainly because four collections of kids poems for our grandchildren spawned 16 one-poem books – in all, 23 books of childrens poems, two memoirs, eight novels and one book on getting old.