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For the past 40 years Gene Shalit has been a prominent presence on NBC's TODAY, among the longest continuous runs by an individual on a single daily network program in the history of television. With his congestion of hair and flowing mustache, Shalit is one of America’s most recognizable personalities. He has been reviewing motion pictures, plays and books on television, radio, and in major magazines for 45 years. Shalit is among the nation’s most influential film critics and a leading interviewer of top international stars.
- He was the senior film critic for Look Magazine
- He wrote the What's Happening page for Ladies Home Journal for 12 years
- From 1969-1982 he wrote and broadcast a daily essay as the Man About Anything on NBC's coast-to-coast radio network. Shalit was carried on more stations than was any other NBC network radio feature
- He has been on TODAY since 1970, going full time on the Desk in 1973
He has been a regular panelist on "What's My Line?" and "To Tell The Truth," and has written articles for The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, Seventeen, Glamour, McCall's and produced picture stories Look.
Shalit has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston's Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, played his bassoon on stage in Lincoln Center and conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a full concert of classical music. In none of these venues has he ever been invited back.
For national magazines and TODAY, he has interviewed scores of accomplished personages in music, theater and motion pictures, from The Grateful Dead to Isaac Stern and Sir James Galway to Steven Spielberg to Jessica Lange to Itzhak Perlman to Pinchas Zuckerman to Count Basie to Helen Hayes to B. B. King to Benny Goodman to Mstislav Rostropovich to Leonard Bernstein to Sophia Loren to Sophia Loren to Sophia Loren.
Shalit's rave-reviewed (N.Y. Times) anthology of humor, "Laughing Matters" (Doubleday, 1987), was a best seller (by his standards). "His Great Hollywood Wit" (St. Martin's Press NY), was published in 2002. He plans soon to begin starting to work on his next book, "Procrastination Is A Full Time Job."
Shalit was born in a New York on March 25, 1926, and eight days later arrived in Newark, N.J., in company of his mother. In 1932 he accompanied his family when they moved to Morristown, N.J., where his father bought a drug store. In grammar school, he founded the school’s first newspaper, The Spotlight, and purchased a fedora. In Morristown High School he wrote the school paper’s humor column (prophetically called "The Broadcaster"), and narrowly escaped expulsion.
Shalit was graduated from the University of Illinois where he needed only six years to complete his four-year course (1943-1949). While there, he was the sports editor and columnist ("What Shalit Be?") and later humor columnist ("Campus Scout") of the then-great The Daily Illini, the university broadsheet newspaper, its nearest rival for editorial excellence being The Daily Texan in Austin. Shalit was also a reporter and writer for the Twin Cities' local daily Champaign- Urbana Courier (during his various periods of ejection from the University), and reported Big Ten sports as a stringer for The Associated Press in Chicago, under the aegis of the immortal Charley Dunkley.
Shalit lives in Massachusetts with Fellini, his Maine coon cat named after the actress Marjorie Main. (To this day, it remains unclear whether the State added the "e," or Ms. Main dropped hers.)
In 1994, while on assignment from TODAY to cover major league baseball spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla., Shalit was run over by a car. To the disappointment of many Hollywood movie producers and directors, Shalit recovered.