Erma Louise Bombeck, 1927 - 1996

portrait of Erma Bombeck
Promotional photo (c) 1993 by Steven Van Warner

Born: 21 February 1927, Dayton, Ohio
Died: 22 April 1996, San Francisco, California

Born Erma Fiste, she started grade school early and loved to read. At Emerson Junior High she wrote a humor column for the school paper, at Patterson Vocational High School her column was devoted to more serious subjects. She worked at the Dayton Herald to earn money for college, her first professional work was an interview with Shirley Temple in 1943. She washed out of Ohio University at Athens after a semester, completing her degree in English in 1949. Her column at the Herald was called "Operation Dusting", other noted interviewees included Eleanor Roosevelt and Mamie Eisenhower. She married Bill Bombeck in 1949. Told that having a child was unlikely, the Bombecks adopted a daughter in 1953 and later had two sons of their own, giving up journalism in 1954. She started writing again in 1964 with a weekly column for the Kettering-Oakwood Times ($3 each), then was asked to write twice a week for the Dayton Journal Herald ($25 each), that column called "At Wit's End" was appearing three times a week in 36 newspapers only three weeks later. By the '70s she was writing for a half dozen of the largest US magazines, her column was running in over 500 newspapers, and three books or her columns were published to wide success. She appeared on ABC's Good Morning America from 1975 to 1986, her other television efforts were less successful. She wrote over 4,000 columns, by the mid-'80s they were running in 900 papers. She was diagnosed with polycistic kidney disease, dying from complications following a kidney transplant.

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