Vogel, Speed 1918–2008

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Vogel, Speed 1918–2008

[A pseudonym]
(Irving L. Vogel)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 3, 1918, in New York, NY; died April 14, 2008, in Sag Harbor, NY. Builder, manufacturer, interior designer, sculptor, painter, and author. Vogel dabbled in many careers over a long life, but he was best known for the dedication he showed to his longtime friend, novelist Joseph Heller, author of the classic novel Catch-22. When Heller was incapacitated by Guillain-Barre syndrome, it was Vogel who looked after him, managed his affairs, and participated in the author's rehabilitation. When Heller eventually recovered and began to recount his darkest moments in writing, it was Vogel who enthusiastically provided an upbeat counterpoint in the form of comic relief. The result was No Laughing Matter (1986), the two-sided account of a debilitating illness, a lasting friendship, and a series of convivial encounters with Heller's circle of friends, who included movie stars, actors, directors, comics, and best-selling authors. Critical response to Vogel's contribution was mixed, but never in question was the friendship that inspired it. Before Vogel's friendship with Heller thrust him into public view, he had worked as an equipment inspector for the U.S. Navy and a civilian general contractor, a builder of transport vessels, a twenty-five-year executive of a woolen manufacturing company, a designer of architectural interiors, and a sculptor and painter in and around New York City. Though he once told CA that he enjoyed his late-blooming success as a writer, No Laughing Matter remained Vogel's only book.



Heller, Joseph, and Speed Vogel, No Laughing Matter, Putnam (New York, NY), 1986.


Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2008, p. B6.

New York Times, April 18, 2008, p. C11.