Mary Schmich

Date Of Birth:
29 November 1953
Place Of Birth:
Savannah, Georgia
Best Known As:
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who wrote the "Wear Sunscreen" e-mail essay

Mary Schmich won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her work as a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

Mary Schmich got her bachelor's degree in 1975 from Pomona College (where she co-edited the student newspaper) and then spent three years working in the school's admissions office. She went to the Stanford Graduate School of Journalism, then spent a year in France and worked as a journalist at the Penisula Times Tribune (in Palo Alto, California) and at the Orlando Sentinel before landing at the Chicago Tribune in 1985.

Mary Schmich became a columnist for the Tribune in 1992. Five years later she grew unexpectedly famous when one of her 1997 columns -- a collection of wry advice to graduating college seniors, beginning with the words "Wear sunscreen" -- was e-mailed around the world, misidentified as an M.I.T. commencement speech by author Kurt Vonnegut. The false attribution was never explained, but the column became an Internet favorite; it was later set to music and released on an album by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.

In 2012, Mary Schmich won her Pulitzer Prize. The Pulitzer committee lauded "her wide range of down-to-earth columns that reflect the character and capture the culture of her famed city."

Extra Credit

Mary Schmich also wrote Brenda Starr, the daily comic strip originally created by Dale Messick, from 1985 until the strip’s run ended in 2011; the last strip appeared on January 2, 2011… Mary Schmich’s last name is pronounced shmeek. Her first name is pronounced mary.

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