P. J. O'Rourke

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P. J. O'Rourke
PJ O'Rourke 1.jpg
O'Rourke in 2007
Born Patrick Jake O'Rourke
(1947-11-14)November 14, 1947
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
Died February 15, 2022(2022-02-15) (aged 74)
Sharon, New Hampshire, U.S.
Alma mater
  • Amy Lumet (m. 1990; div. 1993)
  • Tina Mallon (m. 1995)
Children 3
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Patrick Jake O'Rourke (November 14, 1947 – February 15, 2022) was an American political satirist and journalist. O'Rourke was the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute and a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and frequent panelist on National Public Radio's game show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! He was a columnist at The Daily Beast from 2011 to 2016.[1][2]

In the UK, he was known as the face of a long-running series of television advertisements for British Airways in the 1990s. He authored 16 books, including three that made The New York Times Best Seller list. The Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred, 1994 states, "O'Rourke's original reporting, irreverent humor, and crackerjack writing makes for delectable reading. He never minces words or pulls his punches, whatever the subject."[3]

Life and career

O'Rourke was born in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Delphine (née Loy), a housewife, and Clifford Bronson O'Rourke, a car salesman.[4][5] He graduated from Toledo's DeVilbiss High School in 1965,[6] received his undergraduate degree from Miami University in 1969 and earned an Master of Arts in English at Johns Hopkins University.[7] Many of O'Rourke's essays recount that during his student days he was a leftist, anti-war hippie, but that in the 1970s his political views underwent a volte-face. He emerged as a political observer and humorist rooted in libertarian conservatism.[8][9]

O'Rourke wrote articles for several publications, including "A.J. at N.Y.U." for The Rip Off Review of Western Culture, an underground magazine/comic book, in 1972, as well as pieces for the Baltimore underground newspaper Harry and the New York Ace, before joining National Lampoon in 1973, where he served as editor-in-chief, among other roles, and authored articles such as "Foreigners Around the World"[10] and "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink."[11]

O'Rourke received a writing credit for National Lampoon's Lemmings which helped launch the careers of John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest. He also co-wrote National Lampoon's 1964 High School Yearbook with Douglas Kenney.[12]

Going freelance in 1981, O'Rourke's writing appeared in Playboy, Vanity Fair, Car and Driver,[13] and Rolling Stone. He became foreign-affairs desk chief at Rolling Stone, where he remained until 2001.[14] In 1996, he served as the conservative commentator in the point-counterpoint segment of 60 Minutes.[15] During the Bosnian genocide, O'Rourke received criticism for using the American public's lack of interest in Bosnia as a way to joke about "unspellables killing the unpronouncables."[16]

O'Rourke published 16 books, including three New York Times bestsellers. Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance reached No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list.[17] O'Rourke was a "Real Time Real Reporter" for Real Time with Bill Maher covering the 2008 presidential election.[18]

Personal life

O'Rourke was married to Amy Lumet, a daughter of movie director Sidney Lumet and a granddaughter of Lena Horne, from 1990 to 1993. In 1995 he married his second wife, Tina Mallon; they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, and one son, Clifford.[19] In an interview with the New Statesman, O'Rourke revealed that his "wife is a Catholic, the kids are Catholic" and described himself as, therefore, a "Catholic fellow-traveller". The family divided their time between Sharon, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C.[20]

In 2009, O'Rourke described the presidency of Barack Obama as "the Carter administration in better sweaters".[21] However, in 2016, he endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. O'Rourke stated that his endorsement included her "lies and empty promises," and said, "She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters."[22]

Health and death

In September 2008, O'Rourke announced that he had been diagnosed with treatable anal cancer, from which he expected "a 95% chance of survival."[23]

O'Rourke died from lung cancer at his home in Sharon, New Hampshire, on February 15, 2022, at the age of 74.[19][24]


O'Rourke was a proponent of gonzo journalism; one of his earliest and best-regarded pieces was "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink", a National Lampoon article in March 1979.[25] The article was republished in two of his books, Republican Party Reptile (1987) and Driving Like Crazy (2009).

O'Rourke's best-received book is Parliament of Whores, subtitled A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government, whose main argument, according to the author, "is that politics are boring".[26] He described himself as a libertarian.[27]

O'Rourke typed his manuscripts on an IBM Selectric typewriter, though he denied being a Luddite, asserting that his short attention span would have made focusing on writing on a computer difficult.[28]


See also


  1. "P.J. O'Rourke". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on May 4, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. P. J. O’Rourke@PJORourke. "P. J. O'Rourke". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Terry Eastland, ed. Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred, 1994: A Critical Review of the Media (1994) p. 301
  4. "Serving Up Emily Post with a Wicked Twist, P.j. O'rourke Takes Aim at Modern Manners". Archived from the original on February 20, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. O'Rourke, P.J. (January 7, 2014). The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way... Grove/Atlantic, Inc. ISBN 9780802121974 – via Google Books.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 1965 Pot O' Gold, Volume 33, Thomas A. DeVilbiss High School
  7. https://www.miamialum.org/s/916/16/interior.aspx?pgid=8067&gid=1&cid=26353
  8. Grove, Lloyd (June 3, 1991). "P.J. O'Rourke One Extreme To The Other". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Richard Hamer. "PJ Oâ?TRourke: â?oI thought Trump was unstable, dangerous. I still doâ??". Newstatesman.com. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Karp, Josh (2006). A Futile and Stupid Gesture. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press. p. 273. ISBN 1-55652-602-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Karp, Josh (2006). A Futile and Stupid Gesture. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press. pp. 336–37. ISBN 1-55652-602-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Greg Evans. "P. J. O'Rourke Dead: Satirist, Author & NPR Panelist Was 74 – Deadline". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Interview With P.J. O'Rourke – Barracuda". Barracudamagazine.com. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Althea Legaspi. "P.J. O'Rourke, Celebrated Conservative Satirist, Dead at 74". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. CRITIC, JEFF SIMON /NEWS. "P. J. O'ROURKE COPS AN ATTITUDE". Buffalo News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Matt Frei's diary: Dilemmas of intervention". BBC. Retrieved April 28, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Clifford, Tyler (February 15, 2022). "P.J. O'Rourke, renowned political satirist and journalist, dies age 74" – via www.reuters.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "P.J. O'Rourke | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved December 24, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 Genzlinger, Neil (February 15, 2022). "P.J. O'Rourke, Conservative Political Satirist, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. O'Rourke interview, newstatesman.com; accessed April 28, 2017.
  21. Shanahan, Leo (April 23, 2009). "The world (and its crisis) according to P.J." The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved December 22, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Gass, Nick (May 9, 2016). "P.J. O'Rourke hate-endorses Hillary Clinton on NPR quiz show". Politico. Retrieved May 18, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Give me liberty and give me death, Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2008.
  24. Romero, Dennis (February 15, 2022). "P.J. O'Rourke, influential satirist and commentator, dies at 74". NBCNews.com. Retrieved February 15, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Full text". Archived from the original on January 24, 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, National Lampoon mirror, Internet Archive, archive made Jan 24, 2003, archive Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  26. Swirski, Peter (2010). "Ars Americana Ars Politica". McGill-Queen's University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Live Online with PJ O'Rourke Archived July 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, The Washington Post September 10, 2001.
  28. Garner, Dwight (November 9, 2007). "Stray Questions for: P. J. O'Rourke". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links