Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
William Safire (SA-fir) was the youngest of three sons born to Oliver and Ida (Panish) Safir. Years later, while in the Army, he would legally change the spelling of his surname to match its pronunciation. His father, a successful thread manufacturer, died when his boy William was only four years old, leaving his wife and three sons financially strained. Times were difficult for the family; his brother and occasional collaborator, Leonard, has noted that Safire learned much of his determination and grit during this period of his life, as well as the value of family and friendship in surviving hard times.
In 1947, Safire earned a scholarship to Syracuse University. Two years later, however, he dropped out of college to work and to serve in the military, never returning to earn a degree. He was a correspondent while in the military and a profiles columnist for The New York Herald Tribune, but it was his work as a copyboy with John Reagan “Tex” McCrary, columnist at the newspaper and host of a radio show, that shaped much of his future life. As public figures, McCrary and his wife, actress and model Jinx Falkenburg, introduced Safire to many politicians and prominent figures of the day. McCrary was active in Republican politics; at the age of only twenty-two, as McCrary’s assistant, Safire organized a major rally that persuaded General Dwight...
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