John Lardner


John at 24.
John was born May 4, 1912 when his father was the baseball writer for the Chicago Examiner. Many critics say he was most like his father out of the four children. At a young age, John wrote his first piece for The New Yorker and soon began to work for the World.

The city editor at the World, Stanley Walker, said that John "came close to being the perfect all-around journalist" (Lardner, p. 231). After returning from working at the European edition of the World, he came back to the states to work for the Trib in New York in 1931. He was still only nineteen.

After working at the World he began a syndicated sports column for the North American Newspaper Alliance at age 21. This gave him a national audience. "What John started with was a delicate instinct for the difference between stories that had to be recorded faithfully and those that permitted some creative license. It is a nicety largely undiscovered by the 'new journalism' of today" (Lardner, p. 233).

Shortly after he married Hazel Bell Jean Cannan in September of 1938, John had to leave his bride to write about the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. But John was already beginning to make the transition from newspaperman to magazine writer, which he didn't complete until after the war.


John in the 1950s. Tuberculosis was under control at this time.

John began this transition following in his father's footsteps with a story in the Saturday Evening Post about the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919. To further supplement his syndicate salary, he soon began talking to Newsweek about a column called "Sports Week," which began on March 13, 1939.

From February 1942 - June 1945, John was abroad as a war correspondent and took the time to begin his book Southwest Passage: The Yanks in the Pacific. While in the Pacific Front, a Japanese sniper opened fire on John and his crew. John had said that the man scored with 'a carom shot' that lighted in a pile of stones, "causing one of them to fly up and catch him in the groin." But, in reality, it was not stone but a bullet. John realized this a few months later when, while he was taking a shower, a small-caliber machine-gun bullet "worked its way out of a testicle and struck the tile floor" (Lardner, p. 311).

By 1948 John had dropped his syndicated sports column and become a magazine writer only. In 1951 John wrote Bill that he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The next year he was virtually healed and started a feature page in the magazine "Look" called "John Lardner's New York." But, soon after this, he made a trip to Australia where he suffered a heart attack on the trip.

Began attempting to write a book called Drinking in America, which he wrote seven chapters of before his death. He continued to write a column called "The Air" until he died on December 8, 1958. He had suffered a full-fledged coronary occlusion.