Lewis Grizzard
Lewis McDonald Grizzard, Jr. (October 20, 1946 – March 20, 1994) was an American writer and humorist, known for his Southern demeanor and commentary on the American South. Although he spent his early career as a newspaper sports writer and editor, becoming the sports editor of the Atlanta Journal at age 23, he is much better known for his humorous newspaper columns
Column (newspaper)
A column is a recurring piece or article in a newspaper, magazine or other publication. Columns are written by columnists.What differentiates a column from other forms of journalism is that it meets each of the following criteria:...

 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a popular stand-up comedian & lecturer.

Grizzard also published a total of twenty-five books, including collections of his columns (e.g. Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night), expanded versions of his stand-up comedy routines (I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962), and the autobiographical If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground. Although much of his comedy discussed the South and Grizzard’s personal and professional lives, it was also a commentary on issues prevalent throughout America, including relationships between men and women (e.g. If Love Were Oil, I'd Be About a Quart Low), politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, and health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

, especially heart health. Grizzard was also the stepbrother of the Southern humorist Ludlow Porch
Ludlow Porch
Ludlow Porch , born Bobby Crawford Hanson, was an American radio humorist popular in the southern United States. He was the author of many humor books including,"Fat White Guys Cookbook" and "Who Cares about Apathy"...



Grizzard was born in Fort Benning, Georgia. His father, Lewis Grizzard, Sr., a soldier in the United States Army, left his mother Christine, a school teacher, when Lewis was young, and the mother and son moved in with Christine's parents in Moreland, Georgia
Moreland, Georgia
Moreland is a town in Coweta County, Georgia, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 393. Josh Evans is the Mayor.The author Erskine Caldwell was born in Moreland in 1903...

, where Lewis would spend the rest of his childhood. Grizzard would recount his often frustrating relationship with his father in My Daddy Was a Pistol and I'm a Son of a Gun. He began his writing early, publishing stories of his little league team in the nearby Newnan Times-Herald
Newnan Times-Herald
The Newnan Times-Herald, locally known as The Times-Herald, is a newspaper published in Newnan, Georgia. It was founded in the year 1866, which makes it the oldest news organization in Newnan and Coweta County, Georgia. It is a local newspaper and official legal organ for the community located...

, Newnan, Georgia
Newnan, Georgia
Newnan is a city in Coweta County, Georgia, about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta. The population was 16,242 at the 2000 Census. Newnan is one of the fastest growing cities in Georgia, with an estimated population of 27,097 in 2006 and 33,293 in July 2008...


Grizzard attended the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 in Athens, Georgia
Athens, Georgia
Athens-Clarke County is a consolidated city–county in U.S. state of Georgia, in the northeastern part of the state, comprising the former City of Athens proper and Clarke County. The University of Georgia is located in this college town and is responsible for the initial growth of the city...

 where he was a member of the Sigma Pi
Sigma Pi
Sigma Pi is an international college secret and social fraternity founded in 1897 at Vincennes University. Sigma Pi International fraternity currently has 127 chapters and 4 colonies in the United States and Canada and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee...

 Fraternity and Gridiron Secret Society
Gridiron Secret Society
The Gridiron Secret Society is a secret society based at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Georgia. However, there is much speculation about its international reach...

. During his time in Athens he became an avid Georgia Bulldogs fan. He studied journalism, but he shunned the school newspaper in favor of the independent Athens Daily News
Athens Banner Herald
The Athens Banner-Herald is a 32,000 circulation newspaper in Athens, Georgia, owned by Morris Communications.The newspaper traces its history to the Southern Banner newspaper that first published on March 20, 1832....

. Before graduating with an A.B.J.
Bachelor of Journalism
The Bachelor of Journalism degree is a professional degree awarded at some universities to students who have studied journalism in a three or four year undergraduate program. In the United States, some schools that do not award the B.J...

 in journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/atlanta/obituary.aspx?n=lewis-grizzard&pid=2021037, Grizzard moved on to Atlanta, joining the Atlanta Journal, and becoming the youngest ever executive sports editor of the Journal at the age of 23. The Executive Editor of the Journal, Jim Minter, said that had Grizzard stayed there, he would be remembered today as one of the great newspaper editors of the 20th century. His time there included the Marshall University football team tragedy and the Journals coverage of Hank Aaron's 715th home run.

Grizzard then left to become the executive sports editor at the
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

. He would later recall this as the most miserable period of his life. His tenure included a controversy involving the removal of several news columns written by Lacy Banks, the Sun-Times
first African-American sports columnist, from the newspaper, which resulted in Banks charging racism against Grizzard and led to Banks's subsequent firing. Although the newspaper, under editor Jim Hoge, supported Grizzard, a federal arbitrator reinstated Banks, and he criticized Grizzard as "racially insensitive". Grizzard, for his part, contended that the arbitrator did not understand the newspaper business, and he pointed out that he had replaced Banks with Thom Greer, a writer who was also African-American. Grizzard felt this invalidated any charge of racism. One Chicago radio announcer who sympathized with Grizzard said that Grizzard had been pronounced "guilty by geography". Grizzard was also divorced for the second time while living in Chicago. Grizzard's career as a newspaper man in Chicago is recalled in If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground.

In 1977, Grizzard returned to Atlanta as a columnist for the sports section of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. After eight months, he switched to writing the humor/life column that would eventually make him famous. He published this column about four days per week. At his peak, he was syndicated in 450 newspapers and making regular appearances on television and the stand-up comedy circuit. His popularity in Atlanta was such that the alternative newspaper Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing
CL Inc. is the Tampa, Florida-based publisher of three city newsweeklies and their associated websites. Each of the papers focuses on local news, politics, arts and entertainment, and restaurants...

, in its annual "Best of Atlanta" poll, included the categories "Best Columnist" and "Best Columnist besides Lewis Grizzard".

Grizzard often drew criticism for his disparaging remarks about gay people and feminists, and his dislike for the New South
New South
New South, New South Democracy or New South Creed is a phrase that has been used intermittently since the American Civil War to describe the American South, after 1877. The term "New South" is used in contrast to the Old South of the plantation system of the antebellum period.The term has been used...

 and reflections on the "Old South
Old South
Geographically, Old South is a subregion of the American South, differentiated from the "Deep South" as being the Southern States represented in the original thirteen American colonies, as well as a way of describing the former lifestyle in the Southern United States. Culturally, the term can be...

" just of his youth were frequently misinterpreted. Nevertheless, he was extremely popular in the South, and he had enduring popularity across the nation because of the perceived humor, humanity, patriotism, and "old-fashioned" values that permeated his writing. His frequent bewilderment by sociocultural trends in the 1980s and 1990s struck a chord with many Baby Boom
Baby boom
A baby boom is any period marked by a greatly increased birth rate. This demographic phenomenon is usually ascribed within certain geographical bounds and when the number of annual births exceeds 2 per 100 women...

 readers. Grizzard refused to use computers, writing every column or book on a regular typewriter. ("When I write, I like to hear some noise", he said.)

In 1988, Grizzard made his acting debut on the sitcom Designing Women
Designing Women
Designing Women is an American television sitcom that centered on the working and personal lives of four Southern women and one man in an interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. It aired on the CBS television network from September 29, 1986 until May 24, 1993. The show was created by head writer...

, in the episode "Oh Brother", which first aired on 18 January 1988. Grizzard played the role of Clayton Sugarbaker, the half-brother of Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker. Clayton was a former mental patient aspiring to be a stand-up comedian.

Grizzard had a somewhat troubled life, battling alcoholism, and going through three divorces. He was voted "The Author From Hell" at a publishing convention for his behavior on book tours. He also suffered from a congenital heart defect - a valve problem. In his own words, "There are three little leaflets that control the flow of blood to the heart. I was born with only two of those leaflets. It was just after the Great War, so there may have been a shortage. Either that or my daddy didn't get a good toe-hold." His near-death after his third valve-replacement surgery in 1993 brought in over 50,000 letters from well-wishers. He later attributed his miraculous recovery to the prayers of his fans.

Some time after marrying for the fourth time, Grizzard died of complications of his fourth heart-valve surgery. Grizzard suffered from brain damage
Brain damage
"Brain damage" or "brain injury" is the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. Brain injuries occur due to a wide range of internal and external factors...

, according to one report, from lack of oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 to his brain. Had he survived, he would have been quite impaired. In accordance with his wishes, his body was cremated, and some of his ashes were scattered at the 50-yard line of the Sanford Stadium
Sanford Stadium
Sanford Stadium is the on-campus playing venue for football at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, United States. The 92,746-seat stadium is the seventh largest stadium in the NCAA. Architecturally, the stadium is known for the fact that its numerous expansions over the years have been...

 at the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

. The typewriter he used to author columns about the Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball club based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Braves have played in Turner Field since 1997....

 1991 "worst to first" season is on display in the library of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Grizzard never fathered any children, but he did adopt the daughter, Jordan, of his fourth wife.

Published works

ADD: Shoot Low, Boys - They're Ridin' Shetland Ponies (In Search of True Grit) First Balantine Books Edition: March 1987
Fourteenth Printing: August 1991
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 85-61974
  • Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You: A Good Beer Joint Is Hard to Find and Other Facts of Life (1 December 1979) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns
    Column (newspaper)
    A column is a recurring piece or article in a newspaper, magazine or other publication. Columns are written by columnists.What differentiates a column from other forms of journalism is that it meets each of the following criteria:...

  • Won't You Come Home, Billy Bob Bailey?: An Assortment of Home-Cooked Journalism for People Who Wonder Why Clean Underwear Doesn't Grow on Trees (1 November 1980) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns)
  • Glory! Glory! Georgia's 1980 Championship Season: The Inside Story (1981) (Loran Smith with Lewis Grizzard)
  • Don't Sit Under The Grits Tree With Anyone Else But Me (1 November 1981) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns)
  • They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat (1 October 1982)
  • If Love Were Oil, I'd Be About A Quart Low (1 October 1983)
  • Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself (1 October 1984)
  • Shoot Low Boys - They're Riding Shetland Ponies (1 October 1985)
  • My Daddy Was A Pistol and I'm a Son of a Gun (1 October 1986)
  • When My Love Returns From The Ladies Room, Will I Be Too Old To Care? (1 October 1987) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns)
  • Don't Bend Over In the Garden, Granny - You Know Them Taters Got Eyes (1 October 1988)
  • Lewis Grizzard on Fear of Flying (1 April 1989)
  • Lewis Grizzard's Advice To The Newly Wed . . . & the Newly Divorced (1 April 1989)
  • Chili Dawgs Always Bark At Night (1 September 1989) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns)
  • Does A Wild Bear Chip In The Woods? (1 May 1990)
  • If I Ever Get Back To Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet To The Ground (1 October 1990)
  • Don't Forget To Call Your Momma; I Wish I Could Call Mine (1 April 1991)
  • You Can't Put No Boogie Woogie On The King of Rock and Roll (1 October 1991) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns)
  • I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962 and Other Nekkid Truths (1 October 1992)
  • I Took A Lickin' and Kept on Tickin' and Now I Believe In Miracles (1 January 1994)

Posthumous collections

  • The Last Bus To Albuquerque (1 September 1994) (Collection of previously published Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns)
  • It Wasn't Always Easy But I Sure Had Fun (1 November 1994) (Collection of previously published material)
  • Life Is Like a Dogsled Team . . . : If You're Not the Lead Dog, the Scenery Never Changes—The Wit and Wisdom of Lewis Grizzard (1 May 1995) (Collection of previously published material)
  • Grizzardisms: The Wit and Wisdom of Lewis Grizzard (1 June 1995) (Collection of previously published material)
  • Southern By The Grace of God - Lewis Grizzard on the South (1 May 1996) (Collection of previously published material)

Live comedy albums

  • On The Road With Lewis Grizzard (1985)
  • Live! (From Moreland to Moscow) (1986)
  • Let's Have A Party! With Lewis Grizzard (1987)
  • Addicted to Love (Live) (1989)
  • Don't Believe I'da Told That (1991)
  • The Best of Lewis Grizzard (1994) (Collection of previously released material)
  • One Last Time (1994)
  • Alimony: The Bill You Get, for the Thrill You Got (1994)
  • Lewis Grizzard (2001) (Collection of previously released material)
  • An Evening with Lewis Grizzard (2001) (DVD
    A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....


External links

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