|Intro||American film critic|
|Is||Critic Literary critic Film critic Journalist|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Journalism Literature|
|Birth||25 March 1926, New York City, New York, USA|
Eugene Shalit (born March 25, 1926) is an American film and book critic. He filled those roles on NBC's The Today Show from January 15, 1973, after starting part-time in 1970, until his retirement on November 11, 2010. He is known for his frequent use of puns, his oversized handlebar moustache and fuzzy hair, and for wearing colorful bowties.
Early life and education
According to his official MSNBC bio,
Shalit was born in a New York hospital on March 25, 1926, and eight days later, arrived in Newark, New Jersey, in company of his mother. In 1932, he accompanied his family when they moved to Morristown, New Jersey. In Morristown High School, he wrote the school paper's humor column (prophetically called "The Broadcaster"), and narrowly escaped expulsion.
Born to Jewish parents, Shalit attended Morristown High School, where he wrote a humor column for the school newspaper.
Shalit wrote for The Daily Illini for six years at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (1943–1949).
Shalit, according to a New York Times Magazine interview of Dick Clark, was Clark's press agent in the early 1960s. Shalit reportedly "stopped representing" Clark during a Congressional investigation of payola. Clark never spoke to Shalit again, and referred to him as a "jellyfish".
Shalit has been involved in reviewing the arts since 1967 and has written for such publications as Look magazine, Ladies' Home Journal (for 12 years), Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, Seventeen, Glamour, McCall's, and The New York Times. From 1970 to 1982 he had a daily essay on NBC Radio "Man About Anything", that was carried on more stations than any other NBC network radio feature.
In 1986, Shalit hosted a videocassette and laserdisc collection from MCA Home Video, Gene Shalit's Critic's Choice Video. Four images (five on the laserdisc covers) of Shalit appeared in a filmstrip on the front of the box with his reviews on the back. Titles included Touch of Evil, Destry Rides Again, Double Indemnity and The Ipcress File.
Shalit announced that he would leave The Today Show after 40 years, effective November 11, 2010. Of his decision, he was quoted as saying: "It's enough already". He has largely stayed out of the public eye since his retirement, only appearing once for Willard Scott's retirement in 2015.
Brokeback Mountain review controversy
Shalit was criticized by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for his review of Brokeback Mountain in which he referred to Jake Gyllenhaal's character as a "sexual predator": GLAAD said Shalit's "baseless branding of Jack as a 'sexual predator' merely because he is romantically interested in someone of the same sex is defamatory, ignorant, and irresponsible" and that he "used the occasion to promote defamatory antigay prejudice to a national audience." His gay son, Peter Shalit, wrote a letter to GLAAD defending his father and said GLAAD had defamed him by "falsely accusing him of a repellent form of bigotry."
Shalit has written and edited various books.
- Somehow It Works; A Candid Portrait of the 1964 Presidential Election. 1965.
- Shalit, Gene (1987). Laughing Matters: A Celebration of American Humor. ISBN 978-0385185479.
- Shalit, Gene (2002). Great Hollywood Wit. ISBN 978-0312282721.
- Shalit, Gene (2016) . Khrushchev's Top Secret Coloring Book. ISBN 978-1936404636.
Shalit married Nancy Lewis. For much of his career, he lived in Leonia, New Jersey. Shalit's children include the artist and entrepreneur Willa Shalit. Another child is Peter Shalit, a physician and recognized authority on gay men's health and living with HIV. His daughter Emily died of ovarian cancer in 2012.
Cameo appearances and popular culture
Shalit guest-starred as the voice, and was portrayed in the form, of a fish food critic named "Gene Scallop" in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Krusty Sponge".
He has been parodied in several episodes of Family Guy in cutaway gags. In "Brian Sings and Swings", Shalit mugs Peter in a cutaway and makes threats using several movie title puns ("Don't Panic Room ... I'm not going to William Hurt you. I only want your Tango & Cash. So just Pay it Forward and we'll all be Happy Gilmore!"), which only serves to confuse Peter. In "The Book of Joe", Peter haunts Shalit and his fictional wife Joanne (who is identical to Shalit himself with a large moustache) by pretending to be the ghost of Roger Ebert. In another episode, Peter obtains the power of transformation and while in the form of Britney Spears he kisses Justin Timberlake and then turns into Shalit, exclaiming to a horrified Timberlake, "I'm Gene Shalit now! BYE!". In "Big Man on Hippocampus", Peter reads aloud a review that was supposedly written by Shalit. Another reference is when Peter is being told that all white people look alike, in reply a cutout of Gene Shalit's face is placed over Peter's as he asks "We all look alike do we!?"
Shalit also voiced his own likeness in three episodes of the animated series The Critic.
A Muppet character based on him appeared in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975).
Shalit was occasionally portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Horatio Sanz in sketches and Weekend Update sequences.
Shalit was also portrayed on Second City Television several times by cast member Eugene Levy.