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Considine, Robert 1906-1975

(Bob Considine, Robert Bernard Considine)

PERSONAL: Born November 4, 1906, in Washington, DC; died of a stroke, September 25, 1975, in New York, NY; son of James William (a tinsmith) and Sophie (Small) Considine; married Mildred Anderson, July 21, 1931; children: Michael Riley, Robert Barry, Dennis Joel, Deborah Joan. Education: Attended George Washington University. Religion: Roman Catholic

CAREER: Messenger, typist, and clerk for U.S. Government in Census Bureau, Bureau of Public Health, Treasury Department, and Department of State, Washington, DC, 1923–30; Washington Post, Washington, DC, reporter on sports and drama, writer of Sunday features, 1930–33; Washington Herald, Washington, DC, sports editor, editorial and feature writer, 1933–37; New York American, New York, NY, syndicated sports columnist, trial reporter, feature writer, 1937; New York Daily Mirror, New York, NY, sports columnist, 1937–42; International News Service, sports and news reporter in Washington, DC, war correspondent in England, China-Burma-India theater, and Korea, 1942–50; Hearst newspapers, King Features, and Hearst Headline Service, columnist and news reporter in New York, NY, and war correspondent in Vietnam, 1950–75. Notable assignments include coverage of execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, trial of Jack Ruby, death and funeral of Pope Pius XII, and interview of Nikita Khrushchev. Host of own weekly radio show; script writer, commentator, and interviewer for radio programs; appeared regularly on television news show "America After Dark."

MEMBER: Overseas Press Club (president, 1947), National Press Club, Artists and Writers Club (president), Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Delta Chi.

AWARDS, HONORS: George R. Holmes Memorial Award, 1947, for stories on the hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Island; Catholic Writers Guild award, 1949; Catholic Institute of the Press award, 1949; Sigma Delta Chi award for distinguished service in journalism, 1949, for series on Frank Costello, and voted one of the ten outstanding living journalists, 1975; Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation award, 1952; Christopher Medallion, 1953; Overseas Press Club award, 1957, for exclusive interview with Nikita Khrushchev, and 1959, for best reporting from abroad on the death and funeral of Pope Pius XII; named a member of the Journalist's Hall of Fame by Sigma Delta Chi's New York City chapter, 1975; Bob Considine Award established in 1978 by St. Bonaventure University to recognize outstanding journalists; Bob Considine Award established by Overseas Press Club to recognize best analysis of international affairs; American Jewish Congress award; Christian Athletic Foundation award; Los Angeles City Council award.

WRITINGS:

UNDER NAME BOB CONSIDINE, EXCEPT AS NOTED

MacArthur the Magnificent, McKay (New York, NY), 1942.

The Babe Ruth Story, Dutton (New York, NY), 1948.

(Under name Robert Considine) Innocents at Home, Dutton (New York, NY), 1950.

(Under name Robert Considine) The Maryknoll Story (nonfiction), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1950.

(Under name Robert Considine) The Panama Canal, Random House (New York, NY), 1951.

(Under name Robert Considine) Man against Fire: Fire Insurance—Protection From Disaster, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1955.

(Under name Robert Considine) Christmas Stocking, Hawthorn Books, 1958.

(With Bill Slocum) Dempsey: By the Man Himself, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1960.

(With William Randolph Hearst, Jr., and Frank Conniff) Ask Me Anything: Our Adventures with Khrushchev, McGraw (New York, NY), 1960, revised edition published as Khrushchev and the Russian Challenge, Avon (New York, NY), 1961.

The Men Who Robbed Brink's: The Inside Story of One of the Most Famous Holdups in the History of Crime, Random House (New York, NY), 1961.

(Under name Robert Considine) It's the Irish, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1961.

(Under name Robert Considine) Ripley: The Modern Marco Polo, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1961.

(Under name Robert Considine) The Unreconstructed Amateur: A Pictorial Biography of Amos Alonzo Stagg, Amos Alonzo Stagg Foundation (San Francisco, CA), 1962.

The Long and Illustrious Career of General Douglas MacArthur, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1964.

It's All News to Me: A Reporter 's Deposition (autobiography), Meredith (New York, NY), 1967.

(With Fred G. Jarvis) The First Hundred Years: A Portrait of the NYAC, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1969.

Toots (biography), Meredith (New York, NY), 1969.

The Remarkable Life of Dr. Armand Hammer, Harper (New York, NY), 1975.

They Rose above It: True Stories about Men, Women, and Children Who Fought Back in the Face of Pain, Doubt, and Dismay, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1977.

Also author of Madison Square Garden and They Gave You Wings, 1971.

EDITOR

Ted W. Lawson, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Random House (New York, NY), 1943, reprinted, Brassey's (Washington, DC), 2002.

Sammy Schulman, Where's Sammy?, Random House (New York, NY), 1943.

Jonathan Wainwright, General Wainwright's Story: The Account of Four Years of Humiliating Defeat, Surrender, and Captivity, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1946.

(Under name Bob Considine) Robert E. Stripling, The Red Plot against America, Bell (Drexel Hill, PA), 1949.

MOTION PICTURE SCREENPLAYS

Ladies Day, RKO, 1942.

Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1944.

The Beginning of the End, MGM, 1947.

The Babe Ruth Story, Allied Artists, 1948.

Hoodlum Empire, Republic, 1952.

OTHER

Also author of scripts for audio recordings One Giant Step: The History of America's Man-in-Space Program and This Splendid Office: The Presidency in the 20th Century. Columnist, "On the Line" in Washington Herald and in more than one hundred other newspapers, 1933–75. Contributor of fiction and articles to magazines.

ADAPTATIONS: The Panama Canal was recorded with music and sound effects.

SIDELIGHTS: Robert Considine was a legendary figure in the world of journalism, even during his own lifetime. Although he got his start as a sports reporter and was always praised for his skill in that field, he also went on to report on some of the major news stories of the twentieth century. He was known not only as a tremendously talented writer, but also an amazingly fast and accurate reporter. He sometimes worked with two typewriters at once, writing a news story on one and his column or a book on the other. His colleagues at the Washington Post once timed him, and determined that he wrote a column about the 1942 World Series in exactly nine minutes—in a train, with his typewriter on a baggage wagon, while the conductor shouted "all aboard." Another oft-quoted Considine legend recalled his remarkable ability in smoking and pounding away at the typewriter without a pause. Considine would have a cigarette in the right corner of his mouth while typing and when it was half consumed, he would, without looking, exhale from the left side of his mouth and send the ash flying three feet into the air, to land in a nearby ashtray. A co-worker at the International News Service once mused: "Bob writes more good words than any newsman I ever knew—and faster. He's a quiet operator and never seems to rush or tear up leads. There's no fussing. The machine always holds the story he wants. All he's got to do is push buttons."

Surprisingly enough for a man of such talent, Considine never had any serious ambition to become a journalist. The death of his father when he was nine years old left the family in somewhat difficult circumstances, and he dropped out of high school at the age of seventeen to go to work as a messenger boy for the U. S. Census Bureau. From there he progressed to a job as typist for the Department of Treasury and then to a clerk's job in the state department.

He was a tennis enthusiast, and played in many amateur tournaments in the Washington, DC area. His name was repeatedly misspelled in Washington Post tennis coverage of these tournaments, and finally he went to the paper and complained, asserting that he could do a better job himself. The Post took him up on the claim, hiring him to write a weekly sports column. Within a year, he was working full-time for the Post. Before long he had moved to the Washington Herald, where he began writing his famous column "On the Line." Considine wrote the column for over forty years, from 1933 to 1975, and it was printed in over one hundred newspapers. His last column, written the week he died, stated prophetically: "I'll croak in the newspaper business. Is there any better way to go?"

During his career, Considine covered many of the great historical events of his time. In World War II he reported on preparations for the Normandy campaign, the activities of the Eighth Air Force, the North African campaign, and the fighting in the China-India-Burma theater. He later reported on the wars in Korea and Vietnam. He accompanied Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon on their world travels, including Nixon's momentous trips to China and the U.S.S.R. Perhaps Considine's most heralded achievement was obtaining an exclusive interview with Nikita Khrushchev in 1957. As a member of the famed "Hearst Task Force," with William Randolph Hearst, Jr. and Frank Conniff, Considine interviewed the Russian leader for four hours. Afterwards, he sat down at his typewriter for thirteen hours without a break and finished with forty pages of copy. Considine also earned much praise in 1952, when he obtained the information that Eisenhower and General MacArthur planned to meet to discuss MacArthur's plan for settling the Korean conflict. Considine had this scoop twelve hours before any other reporter in the world. He also wrote memorably about the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the trial of Jack Ruby, the funeral of Pope Pius XII, and hydrogen-bomb testing on Bikini Island.

In addition to his reportage, he also wrote or cowrote more than twenty books, worked on several movie screenplays, wrote fiction, and took part in various radio and television news programs. Some of his ghostwriting projects became very well-known, such as Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, written with Air Force captain Ted Lawson. Lawson lost a leg in a 1942 bombing raid on Tokyo; his account of the attack was serialized in Collier's magazine before being published as a book, and popularized as a movie in 1944. Considine ghostwrote another World War II story with General Wainwright's Story: The Account of Four Years of Humiliating Defeat, Surrender, and Captivity, which related General Jonathan Wainwright's experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war.

No matter what his subject, Considine loved the newspaper business. In his final column he wrote: "In what other trade can a man hope to build a bridge between himself and others every day of every week and every year. On what other field of endeavor is a competitor called upon to come up each day with words and thoughts he did not use the day before. Every time a reporter picks a phone to call in a story, swings aboard a plane on an assignment, or spins a fresh sheet of copy paper into his typewriter, he shoots his roll—like a craps player going for broke."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Authors in the News, Volume 2, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1976.

Considine, Bob, It's All News to Me: A Reporter 's Deposition, Meredith (New York, NY), 1967.

Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 9: 1971–1975, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 241: American Sportswriters and Writers on Sport, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Book, September-October, 1999, David Davis, "Roger Kahn—Sports and Sensibility."

Book Week, April 30, 1967.

Military Review, March-April, 2004, Rick Baillergeon, review of Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, p. 72.

New York Herald Tribune Book Review, January 22, 1950.

New York Times Book Review, May 15, 1960.

Saturday Review, October 28, 1961.

Saturday Review of Literature, January 21, 1950.

Sporting News, February 6, 1995.

Variety, October 29, 1969.

Washington Post, October 29, 1989, Shirley Povich, "A Sporting Life," p. W22.

OBITUARIES:

PERIODICALS

Long Island Press, September 26, 1975.

News-American, September 26, 1975.

Newsweek, October 6, 1975.

New York Times, September 26, 1975.

Time, October 6, 1975.

Washington Post, September 26, 1975.

Considine, Robert 1906-1975

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