Mary Tyler "Molly" Ivins, 1944 - 2007

portrait of Molly Ivins
University of Texas photo
5025

Born: 30 August 1944, Monterey, California
Died: 31 January 2007, Austin, Texas

Jim Ivins was an oil and gas executive, the family lived in Houston's affluent River Oaks area and Molly was sent to the private St John's School where she was involved with the annual and student newspaper but without her later political focus. She graduated from St John's in 1962 and went to Scripps College, transferred to Smith College the next year, spent her junior year at the Institute of Political Science at Paris, and received her BA in history from Smith in 1966. She earned a master's degree at Columbia University's school of journalism in 1967. She spent three college summers as an intern at the Houston Chronicle. She was the first female police reporter and covered all the protest action at the Minneapolis Tribune, and in 1970 became political reporter and co-editor of the non-profit Texas Observer where she developed her humorous and confrontational style with those in power. She remained on the board of the foundation until her death. The New York Times felt their writing was too staid and lifeless and hired her in 1976, making her the head of their Rocky Mountain bureau. Ivins wrote the Time's obituary for Elvis Presley but generally conflicted with her editors who attempted to smooth out the colorful language they had originally hired her for. She was recalled to New York, which she regarded as punishment, and left for the Dallas Times Herald in 1981. That paper assigned her to Austin, the state capital, in 1985 to reduce friction with civic leaders, but the paper promoted her with billboards saying "Molly Ivins can't say that, can she?" which also became the title of one of her eleven books. When that paper was bought and shuttered by the rival Daily Morning News in 1991 she was immediately offered a job at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram which allowed her to remain at Austin, she stayed with that paper until 2001. Her column was syndicated in almost 400 papers. Ivins was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer in 1999 with recurrences in 2003 and late 2005. She took a leave from her syndicated column in December of 2006 due to the chemotherapy, got two more columns out in January and died at home.

Biography from Wikipedia and Indy Week

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