Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Edwin Newman recalled for his literacy and humour

Puckish and literate, Edwin Newman outgrew the career of a 60s television news reporter. Wikipedia describes his rare blend of seriousness and humor. "For a 1964 documentary, he travelled from Paris on the Orient Express, talking to people along the way – and famously ended in a bubble bath in Istanbul. He also relished puns. When he worked on The Today Show his doggerel poem reviewing each year’s events would end, "Happy Noo Year to Yoose from Edwin Newman NBC Noose." Around the time he left NBC in 1984, he was twice host of Saturday Night Live and on one occasion, to the delight of the audience, sang the song "Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone" as part of the opening monologue. In 1974, his first book, Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English? reached Number 1 in the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller List. The book owed its force to his love of vivid, precise language; his detestation of pomposity, clich├ęs, errors and jargon, especially from the powerful; and his fierce belief that degrading the language was damaging the nation. But what snared the readers was his wit and satire. One fan tried reading the book on a plane. He laughed so much that he fell into the aisle, much to the alarm of the other passengers. A Civil Tongue followed in 1976; Sunday Punch (a comic novel) in 1979; and I Must Say in 1988" He died in August at the age of 91 in the United Kingdom where he had moved to be closer to his daughter.

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