Alabama Not Just Football: 30 Amazing People Who Were Built By Bama

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Gay Talese

Gay Talese was born in Ocean City, NJ and came south to attend the University of Alabama to study journalism. While at UA, Talese was the sports editor of the Crimson White, the campus newspaper.

After graduation in 1953, Talese left Alabama for New York City where he began work as a copyboy at the New York Times. He was briefly called for Army training at Fort Knox, but returned to the New York Times as a sportswriter until 1965. He was captivated by the psychological side of sports and was once quoted as saying: “sports is about people who lose and lose and lose. They lose games; then they lose their jobs. It can be very intriguing.”

In 1965, Talese left the Times to write for Esquire. There he published the article “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” which is considered one of the cornerstone pieces of New Journalism. Sinatra refused to be interviewed by Talese for the profile, so Talese spent three months following Frank Sinatra and interacting with his entourage trying to get close enough for an interview. The singer never cooperated, but the piece was published in April 1966 and received enormous praise.

Later that year, Talese famously profiled Joe DiMaggio while reflecting on the fleeting nature of fame, especially in sports. In 1970, he wrote a true crime account of the Charles Manson murders which was later included in The Library of America’s true crime retrospective.

In 2011, Gay Talese was awarded the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Journalism. Each spring, he serves as a visiting writer in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California.

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