Studs Terkel dies at 96

Chicago writer won Pulitzer Prize in 1985

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist Studs Terkel died Friday in Chicago. He was 96.

He had been suffering since a fall earlier in October and had undergone open-heart surgery in 2005.

Terkel is best known for his streetwise portrayals of the working class. He contrasted rich and poor along the same Chicago street in the 1966 novel “Division Street: America,” explored the Depression in 1970’s “Hard Times” and chronicled how people felt about their jobs in 1974’s “Working,” which was made into a Broadway show in 1978 and telecast on PBS in 1982.

Terkel won a Pulitzer in 1985 for his remembrances of WWII in his novel “The Good War.” He also appeared in the film “Eight Men Out” as a reporter trying to uncover the White Sox fixing to throw the 1919 World Series.

“My dad led a long, full, eventful, sometimes tempestuous, but very satisfying life,” said Terkel’s son Dan in a statement.

Born in New York, Terkel, moved with his parents at the age of 8 to Chicago, where he spent most of his life. His parents ran a rooming house, which he credited with exposing him to a wide range of people.

While he received a law degree from the U. of Chicago, Terkel never worked as a lawyer, instead joining the Works Progress Administration Federal Writers’ Project, working on various radio shows. He then created and hosted Chicago TV show “Studs’ Place,” which didn’t last long but set the tone for the rest of his career as an interviewer, talker and listener.

Considerably more long-lived was his radio show “The Studs Terkel Program,” which ran every weekday on WFMT Chicago from 1952-97, hosting guests including Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan and Leonard Bernstein.

In recent years he spent time at the Chicago History Museum, which collected the 9,000-plus hours of interviews from his radio shows and book research.

His other books include his first, “Giants of Jazz”; last year’s memoir “Touch and Go”; and a new book, “P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening,” scheduled for publication in November.

His wife, Ida, died in 1999. They had one son.