BELOVED journalist and author PJ O’Rourke has died at the age of 74, with those on both sides of the aisle posting tributes to the libertarian critic and satirist.
Best known as PJ, Patrick Jake O’Rourke is survived by his wife, Tina, and their three children. He was previously married to Amy Lumet.
News of the former National Lampoon editor’s death hit social media on Tuesday.
Peter Sagal, the host of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! on NPR, confirmed the news on Twitter, saying: “I’m afraid it’s true. Our panelist and my dear friend PJ O’Rourke has passed away.”
Writer Drew Cline also affirmed O’Rourke’s death, saying: “I just confirmed with PJ’s publicist that it’s true. RIP, my friend. You’ll be deeply, deeply missed. Damnit.”
A fixture in journalism, O’Rourke was a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and acted as editor-in-chief of online magazine American Consequences.
The 74-year-old was also a frequent panelist on NPR’s game show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and a columnist at The Daily Beast.
Read our PJ O’Rourke live blog for the latest news and updates…
Peter Sagal remembers friend and colleague
Peter Sagal hosts Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! on NPR, and O’Rourke often appeared as a panelist.
In a thread on Twitter, Sagal remembered his “deeply kind and generous” friend.
“It is very rare in life to be a fan of someone and then become their friend, but it happened to me with PJ,” Sagal wrote.
“I discovered something remarkable: Most well known people try to be nicer than they are in public than they are in private life.
“PJ was the only man I knew to be the opposite. He was a deeply kind and generous man who pretended to be a curmudgeon for public consumption.
“He told the best stories. He had the most remarkable friends.
“And he devoted himself to them and his family in a way that would have totally ruined his shtick had anyone ever found out.”
Sagal concluded the thread by writing “His work was wonderful. His heart was even better. I will miss him terribly.”
Earlier confusion over older O’Rourke
When the news of PJ O’Rourke’s death initially broke, there was some confusion over whether the celebrated American satirist had died.
On some social media platforms, users responded to reports of O’Rourke’s death by sharing the obituary of an Irish man by the same name who passed away at the end of 2020.
However, the reports were sadly confirmed after a brief period of uncertainty, by O’Rourke’s publisher and by his NPR colleague Peter Sagal.
Media leaders remember O’Rourke
Other writers took to social media to remember their fallen peer after the news of O’Rourke’s death was confirmed.
Jonah Goldberg, editor-in-chief at The Dispatch, said O’Rourke was “a unique talent” and “a really good dude.”
Rob Long, a writer and the executive producer for the beloved sitcom Cheers, said O’Rourke “did the impossible: he made you laugh at the bad news. Except for today.”
Official statement from publisher
In a statement, O’Rourke’s publisher Grove Atlantic mourned the loss of his “unparalleled” wit and acuity.
“Our dear friend and cherished Grove Atlantic author PJ O’Rourke passed away this morning from complications of lung cancer,” the statement begins.
Morgan Entrekin, CEO and Publisher of Grove Atlantic, said “PJ was one of the major voices of his generation. He was also a close friend and partner for more than 40 years.
“PJ’s loyalty and commitment to first Atlantic Monthly Press and then Grove Atlantic enabled me to keep the company independent. For that I will forever be in his debt,” Entrekin continued.
“His insightful reporting, verbal acuity and gift at writing laugh-out-loud prose were unparalleled.
“His passing leaves a huge hole in my life both personal and professional.”
O’Rourke discussed his ‘ideal retirement’
Talking to AARP in 2011, O’Rourke confided that while retirement was not an option for him, he did have a mental picture of his ideal retirement.
“I’d get rid of the business travel. I like the speaking, but the travel drives me crazy,” he told AARP.
“Between airline deregulation, airline business failures, bankruptcies and consolidations, every seat on every d**n plane is filled — and with a person twice my size,” the satirist griped.
“And with the charges for the luggage, every overhead bin is spilling out onto my head.”
Retirement was ‘not on the horizon’
At the time of his death, PJ O’Rourke was the editor-in-chief at American Consequences, a free online magazine.
He was also known for publishing freelance work regularly, and appearing as a panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
In a 2011 interview with AARP, O’Rourke was asked if he planned to continue writing and publishing books.
“Oh, afraid so,” he responded.
“Not only am I going to keep writing, but as the breadwinner for a family of five, I have but little choice. Retirement is just not on the horizon for me.”
O’Rourke on aging: ‘No sense complaining’
Over a decade ago, PJ O’Rourke talked to AARP about balancing his career and parenthood at the age of 64.
“The body is forever teaching us lessons,” O’Rourke told the organization’s web bulletin.
“There are all sorts of things that we can’t do, shouldn’t do, had better not do very often or do for too long as we get older. The body makes its presence known.
“I could live without that aspect of aging. But everyone goes through it, so no sense complaining.”
Tracing PJ O’Rourke’s career
After getting his Master’s degree, PJ wrote articles across several publications before joining National Lampoon in 1973.
PJ’s freelance work began to appear across a variety of esteemed platforms in the 1980s, including Playboy, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone.
Throughout his lifetime, PJ published 16 books, including Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance.
O’Rourke reportedly died of cancer
O’Rourke’s family has yet to comment on the journalist and author’s death.
NBC News reported that his cause of death was due to “complications from lung cancer.”
Remembering O’Rourke’s great wit
On Twitter, PJ O’Rourke’s peers shared some of the writer’s sharpest lines.
Author and activist Brigitte Gabriel shared one quote from O’Rourke, superimposed over a photo of him.
“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys,” it reads.
Gabriel wrote, “P.J. O’Rourke always found a way to make people laugh while also making a valid point.
“He will be missed greatly.”
Jonn Elledge, a columnist at The New Statesman, re-shared O’Rourke’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump from the 2016 election.
“She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters,” the quote reads.
‘A few words about PJ’
“A few words about PJ,” he began.
“It is very rare in life to be a fan of someone and then become their friend, but it happened to me with PJ, and I discovered something remarkable.”
“Most well known people try to be nicer than they are in public than they are in private life. PJ was the only man I knew to be the opposite. He was a deeply kind and generous man who pretended to be a curmudgeon for public consumption,” he added.
“He told the best stories. He had the most remarkable friends. And he devoted himself to them and his family in a way that would have totally ruined his shtick had anyone ever found out.”
“Like some other people I am, it took him two tries to get marriage right, so he leaves behind a wife, Tina, and three children who are far too young to lose their husband and father.”
“His work was wonderful. His heart was even better. I will miss him terribly,” Sagal concluded.
Where was O’Rourke from?
PJ O’Rourke was born in Toledo, Ohio.
He and his family spent time in New Hampshire and Washington, DC.
What was PJ O’Rourke’s full name?
PJ O’Rourke was born Patrick Jake O’Rourke in 1947.
He was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Delphine (née Loy), a housewife, and Clifford Bronson O’Rourke, a car salesman.
‘A brilliant writer’
“‘Never meet your idols.’ Generally speaking, a good cautionary note,” Dispatch editor Stephen Hayes wrote on Twitter.
“It didn’t apply to PJ O’Rourke – a brilliant writer and a warm, generous man. RIP.”
National Review editor reacts
National Review editor Richard Brookhiser wrote of O’Rourke’s death on Twitter: “P.J. O’Rourke and I sat together at the 1988 GOP convention.”
“When Bush41 promised the death penalty for drug kingpins, PJ asked, ‘Even if the drugs are good, and the prices fair?’ R.I.P.”
O’Rourke was a prolific author
PJ O’Rourke wrote 20 books, best known for Holidays in Hell, a collection of his articles as a freelance foreign correspondent, as he examined political concerns such as global warming and famine from a libertarian perspective.
O’Rourke’s alma mater
Toledo, Ohio native PJ O’Rourke received his undergraduate degree from Miami University in 1969.
He also earned an M.A. in English at Johns Hopkins University a year later.
O’Rourke’s extensive work
A fixture in journalism, PJ O’Rourke was a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard.
The 74-year-old was also a frequent panelist on NPR’s game show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and columnist at The Daily Beast.
O’Rourke’s final tweet
PJ O’Rourke shared his last tweet in 2014.
On May 4, 2014, he wrote, “No talent? Kind of dim-witted? No shame? Perfect. The celebrity industry needs you — just don’t ever veil your face,” with a link to an article he did for The Daily Beast.
PJ O’Rourke’s social media
PJ O’Rourke was on Twitter from 2011 until his last tweet in 2014.
His Twitter bio reads: “Dragging the pond of politics to find the body of humor.”
Did PJ O’Rourke have kids?
PJ O’Rourke married his second wife, Tina O’Rourke, in 1995.
Tina and PJ had three children together: Olivia, Clifford, and Elizabeth.
Was PJ O’Rourke married?
The late writer was married twice in his life, first to Amy Lumet from 1990 to 1993.
Two years after his divorce from Lumet he married Tina O’Rourke in 1995.
What was PJ O’Rourke known for?
PJ O’Rourke wrote many books as a political satirist throughout his career.
In 1978 he published the book National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody.
Some of his other titles include:
- Eat the Rich (1998)
- The CEO of The Sofa (2001)
- How The Hell Did This Happen? (2017)
- None of My Business (2018)
News of death hit social media
Many tweets began to report that the beloved journalist and former editor of National Lampoon died on Tuesday.
Peter Sagal of NPR’s Wait Wait wrote about the passing of his colleague, “I’m afraid it’s true. Our panelist and my dear friend PJ O’Rourke has passed away. More later.”
Another writer and friend of the late O’Rourke wrote: “I just confirmed with PJ’s publicist that it’s true. RIP, my friend. You’ll be deeply, deeply missed. Damnit.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper of The Lead also reported the news on February 15 via Twitter, writing, “United Talent Agency confirms that celebrated author P.J. O’Rourke has died. What a loss; great guy. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17663996/pj-orourke-satirist-amy-lumet-live/ PJ O’Rourke cause of death news – Satirist and author dead at 74 as tributes flow to writer once married to Amy Lumet