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Earl Wilson Dies; His Column Took N.Y Night Life to Millions

January 17, 1987|From Times Wire Services

YONKERS, N.Y. — Broadway columnist Earl Wilson, who during a 48-year career used his folksy writing style and fascination with the female form to bring New York's night life to millions of readers, died Friday. He was 79.

Wilson, who had been in a coma since last weekend, died at St. Joseph's Hospital here. The author of more than 11,000 "Last Night With Earl Wilson" columns had Parkinson's disease and had suffered a stroke Dec. 14.

Born in Rockford, Ohio, Wilson began writing for magazines in 1923 when he was 16 years old and later became a regular contributor to the Saturday Evening Post, Liberty and Esquire.

His column was picked up by the Post & Hall Syndicate in 1943 and he also aired gossipy tidbits on the WOR-Mutual radio broadcasting system in 1945.

Among his books were "I Am Gazing Into My 8-Ball" in 1945, "Let 'Em Eat Cheese Cake" in 1949 and "The Show Business Nobody Knows" in 1971.

Until his retirement in 1983, Wilson made the rounds of opening nights and celebrity haunts, and he was especially fond of profiling starlets and ingenues. He said he was known as "the three B's editor--booze, bosoms and behinds."

One of his standard interview questions was what his subject wore to bed.

He signed off his daily column, "That's Earl, brother."

A writing device he employed frequently was to talk about his subjects through the eyes of "The B.W.," which stood for Beautiful Wife, meaning his wife of 50 years, Rosemary. She died last February.

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