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Rediscovering Robert Rice (Or: Sahl Long, I've Had You Fame)

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: , , , , ,

James Wolcott awards a Tip of the Hat (not a Wag of the Finger) for background information on his recent column on Mort Sahl to “a now mostly forgotten New Yorker writer named Robert Rice” for his July 30, 1960, profile of Sahl. Wolcott, who calls the piece “fascinating,” notes that Rice also wrote a profile on Nichols and May; I would only add that he did others on Dave Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein, and Branch Rickey, as well as a whole slew of enthralling-sounding NYC-related profiles (or rather, Profiles) and stuff in other departments.

Is anyone out there familiar with Rice? We’d love to hear about it. Perhaps he was the Calvin Tomkins or Lawrence Weschler of his day! —Martin Schneider


Recently I listened to a CD of Marion McParland’s “Piano Jazz” program on public radio featuring her longtime pal Dave Brubeck. In it, Brubeck referenced Robert Rice’s profile of him in the June 3, 1961 New Yorker, calling Rice a terrific writer. As I’m a subscriber of the magazine, I accessed and downloaded (in PDF) the full piece from The New Yorker’s digital archive. Though I’ve been a devoted fan of Brubeck for decades, I learned vastly more in an hour of reading than I had in 40 years of admiring Brubeck’s music. Rice’s insights and his sheer prowess as a stylist and reporter represent the quintessential excellence of The New Yorker, and of Rice’s talent.

Mark MillerAugust 15, 2011

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