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Obituary: Arthur Spiegelman

Arthur Spiegelman, global entertainment editor, died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles aged 68. After a Reuters career of 42 years, he went on permanent medical leave only a few weeks ago and his health declined rapidly on Wednesday. He had suffered from cancer for several years.

Spiegelman's death occurred at around 7:00 pm (3:00 am Sunday GMT). His wife Charlotte, their sons Michael and Adam, younger brother Marvin and granddaughter Molly Mae were with him at the end.

Paul Holmes, former correspondent and editor, said: “I was privileged to speak to Art on the phone from New York just a few hours ago, though he could not respond. I told him how much he meant to so many people... but I think he knew that.”

Spiegelman was one of Reuters’ finest writers and longest-serving correspondents whose graceful prose and unfailing sense of humour made him one of its most admired correspondents.

David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief, said: “Art’s writing was beloved of readers and editors alike, using a light touch to explore subjects from pop culture to politics and an ability to find a laugh or wry angle anywhere. He was a friend and mentor to legions of journalists.”

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Spiegelman joined Reuters in London in 1966 from a New Jersey newspaper, the Bergen Evening Record. His stint on the Americas desk at 85 Fleet Street was supposed to last for six months but he stayed on and never bothered to inquire whether the job that was being held open for him at the newspaper in Hackensack was still open. In 1972, after a spell in London Bureau, he returned to the United States where he was a New York shift editor and later New York correspondent.

In 1985 Spiegelman stood in as bureau chief in Manila for six months.

During the past decade, he had been based in Los Angeles as West Coast bureau chief and later global entertainment editor.

Spiegelman said the reason he stayed with Reuters so long was that he kept on meeting "all these nice people".

As ill-health forced him to go on medical leave, Bernd Debusmann, a long-time colleague, wrote: "I can think of few journalists - inside and outside Reuters - who can write as beautifully as Arthur. His copy has flair and style, bite, wit and insight. He can produce sparkling prose on virtually any subject. His byline is known by editors around the world, one of whom was so impressed by a particular story that he wrote to Arthur's boss at the time, Evelyn Leopold, to ask "Is Arthur Spiegelman for sale? Would my right arm be payment enough? On the basis of his piece... I'd be prepared to go higher if necessary."

“The phrase ‘larger than life’ comes to mind when one thinks of Arthur. It really fits."

Schlesinger recalled that "Arthur could be described as chaos incarnate - his office swamped with piles of books, his filing system personal and eccentric, his appearance that of a stereotypical absent minded professor, his copy littered with typographical errors. Yet out of that chaos came beautiful, clear and ordered journalism, journalism that covered a diverse range of subjects so far-reaching over his four decades that it could put the output of many a small bureau to shame. That journalism, together with Arthur's wonderful, helpful personality shaped the lives and careers and output of many a reporter following in his path."

Global managing editor Betty Wong wrote: "It's very easy to pay tribute to a legend at Reuters. What has been harder is seeing fewer Arthur Spiegelman bylines on the news file as of late. And, after all, Art could tell the story of his days at Reuters over the past 40 plus years better than anyone else. His strength in the face of adversity is humbling. He is not shy about talking about his own health but is more interested in what's going on with you and office shenanigans."

The funeral will be held at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, 6001 W. Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles (link below) at 11:00 am on Tuesday 23 December. Charlotte says flowers “are not necessary” but donations to honour her husband’s memory can be made to the Sova Food Pantry (link below).

A memorial service will be held later, probably in January.


Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary

Sova Food Pantry

John Abell’s tribute ■