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Michael "Mike" Royko (September 19, 1932 – April 29, 1997) was a newspaper columnist in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, who won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Over his thirty year career, he wrote over 7,500 daily columns for three newspapers, the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

Young reporter

Mike Royko grew up in Chicago, living in an apartment above a bar. His mother was Polish and his father Ukrainian. He briefly attended Wright Junior College and then enlisted in the U. S. Air Force in 1952.

On becoming a columnist, he drew experiences from his childhood, becoming the voice of the Everyman Chicago. Although caustically sarcastic, he never condescended to his readers, considering himself one of the people and maintaining a healthy skepticism about elites of all kinds.

Royko began his newsman's career as a columnist for the Naval Air Station Glenviewmarker newspaper, the City News Bureau of Chicago and the Lincoln-Belmont Booster before working at the Chicago Daily News as a political reporter, becoming an irritant to the City's Democratic Machine politicians with penetrating and skeptical questions and reports.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and best-selling author

Reporter Mike Royko covered Cook Countymarker politics and government in a weekly political column, soon supplemented with a second, weekly column reporting about Chicago's folk music scene. The success of those columns earned him regular writing about all topics for the Daily News, a liberal afternoon newspaper. In 1972, Royko received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary as a Daily News man.

When the Daily News closed, Royko worked for its allied morning newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1984, when Rupert Murdoch bought the Sun-Times, for whom he said he would never work: No self-respecting fish would be wrapped in a Murdoch paper and that, His goal is not quality journalism. His goal is vast power for Rupert Murdoch, political power. Mike Royko then worked for the rival Chicago Tribune. For a period after the takeover, the Sun-Times reprinted Royko's columns, while new columns appeared in the Tribune.

He died of a brain aneurysm at age sixty-four. His columns were syndicated country-wide in more than 600 newspapers, more than 7,500 columns in a four-decade career. He also wrote or compiled dozens of "That's Outrageous!" columns for Reader's Digest.

Many columns are collected in books; yet, his most famous book remains his unauthorized biography of Richard J. Daley, Boss, the best-selling non-fiction book portrait of Daley as corrupt and racist; it is a principal book about Mayor Daley (father) and the City of Chicago under his mayoralty. On its publishing, the Mayor of Chicago forced 200 Chicago private bookstores to not stock Boss, but public demand for the book overrode the Mayor, and book stores sold Boss; later, the Mayor's wife was caught vandalizing copies.

Like many columnists, Mike Royko created fictitious mouthpieces with whom he could "converse"; the most famous being Slats Grobnik, the epitome of the working class Polish-Chicagoan. Generally, the Slats Grobnik columns were two men discussing a current event in a Polish neighborhood bar. In 1973, Royko collected several columns as Slats Grobnik and Other Friends. Another of Royko's characters was his pseudo-psychiatrist Dr. I.M. Kookie (eponymous protagonist of Dr. Kookie, You're Right! [1989]). Dr. Kookie, purportedly the founder of the Asylumism religion — according to which Earth was settled by a higher civilization's rejected insane people — satirized pop culture and pop psychology.

Through his columns, Royko helped make his favorite after-work bar, the Billy Goat Tavernmarker, famous, and popularized the curse of the Billy Goat. Billy Goat's reciprocated by sponsoring the Daily News's 16-inch softball team, and featuring Royko's columns on their walls.[10921]

16-inch softball and the Cubs

Royko was a lifelong fan and critic of the Chicago Cubs. Just prior to the 1990 World Series he wrote about the findings of another fan, Ron Berler, who had discovered a seemingly spurious correlation called the "Ex-Cubs Factor". He predicted that the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics would lose the Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The accuracy of that unlikely prediction, in stunning fashion (four game sweep) propelled the Ex-Cubs Factor theory into the spotlight.

The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Royko is prominent in many of these stories.

He was also fervently devoted to 16-inch softball and was inducted into the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame shortly after his death, an honor Royko's family insists he would have considered as meaningful as his Pulitzer.

Honors and final resting place

To follow up on his 1972 Pulitzer Prize, Royko won the National Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 and the Damon Runyon Award in 1995.

The "Royko Two Arrival" is an IFR arrival procedure at O'Hare International Airport.

Mike Royko is entombed in Acacia Mausoleum, Acacia Park Cemetery, Chicagomarker.

Books by Mike Royko

Notes and References



External links

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