Lawrence E. Spivak

Lawrence Edmund Spivak (June 11, 1900 – March 9, 1994) was an American publisher and journalist who was best known as the co-founder, producer and host of the prestigious public affairs program Meet the Press. He and journalist Martha Rountree founded the program as promotion for Spivak's magazine, The American Mercury, and it became the longest-running continuous network series in television history. During his 28 years as panelist and moderator of Meet the Press, Spivak was known for his pointed questioning of policy makers.[1]

Lawrence E. Spivak
Ned Brooks Lawrence Spivak Meet the Press 1960
Spivak at right with Ned Brooks, 1960.
BornJune 11, 1900
Brooklyn, New York, United States
DiedMarch 9, 1994 (aged 93)
Washington, D.C., United States
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationBroadcast journalist
Spouse(s)Charlotte Beir Ring (1924–1983)
ChildrenJudith Spivak Frost
Jonathan Martin Spivak

Life and career

Lawrence E. Spivak was born June 11, 1900, in New York City. In 1921 he graduated cum laude from Harvard University and began his career in publishing as business manager for Antiques magazine. He married psychologist Charlotte Beir Ring in 1924, and together they had two children.[1] From 1930 to 1933 Spivak worked for Hunting and Fishing and National Sportsman magazines, as circulation director and assistant to the publisher.[2]

The American Mercury

In 1934 Spivak became business manager for The American Mercury,[3] a literary magazine that critiqued the American scene, while it was edited by journalist H. L. Mencken. Spivak purchased the magazine in 1939.[4] He served as its editor from 1944[5] to 1950 when he sold it.[6]

In 1937 Spivak founded Mercury Publications, Inc., a publishing company with imprints including American Mercury Books, Mercury Mysteries, Bestseller Mysteries and Jonathan Press Mysteries. Spivak published inexpensive digest-sized paperback editions, often abridged, of works by authors including Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, Ellery Queen, Georges Simenon, Rex Stout and Cornell Woolrich. Mercury Publications also included such periodicals as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Book of Wit and Humor and Detective: The Magazine of True Crime Cases. Spivak sold his interest in Mercury Publications in 1954.[7]

Meet the Press

In 1945, Spivak and journalist Martha Rountree created and co-produced the weekly public affairs program Meet the Press as radio promotion for The American Mercury. A television edition began on NBC in November 1947, and separate shows continued until the radio version ceased in 1950. Spivak purchased Rountree's interest in the program in 1953.

Spivak sold Meet the Press to NBC in 1955 but remained as moderator, producer and panelist. He retired November 9, 1975, after a special one-hour broadcast that featured President Gerald R. Ford and marked the 28th anniversary of Meet the Press on television. Spivak continued to be a consultant to NBC until 1989, and made his last Meet the Press appearance in 1983.[2]

"All received equal treatment," Arthur Unger of The Christian Science Monitor wrote of the presidents and world leaders who were questioned by the Meet the Press panelist. "They had to face up to Lawrence Spivak of the fierce visage, the challenging questions, the fearless independence, the utter fairness. And beneath it all, the scowling good nature of a man with an unrelenting mission: to evince accurate information from the very mouths of the individuals who make the news."[8]

Spivak was distinguished by his rather dapper appearance, his wardrobe usually including a bowtie and heavy-rimmed glasses. He first appeared as the one permanent member of the program's panel of reporters, asking the first round of questions. As moderator, he asked the first question of the Meet the Press guest and then handed off to the other journalists on the panel, which usually totaled four during his 28 years as the host and moderator of the TV program.

Later years

From 1985 to 1994, Spivak co-produced PBS television programs for the Southern Center for International Studies.[2]

Spivak's office was at the Sheraton-Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., which was also his home. He was widowed in 1983. Spivak died of congestive heart failure at Washington's Sibley Memorial Hospital on March 9, 1994, at the age of 93.[3]


  1. ^ a b Burrell, Cassandra, "TV News Show Pioneer Dies at 93"; The Associated Press, March 10, 1994
  2. ^ a b c Lawrence E. Spivak Papers at the Library of Congress
  3. ^ a b Severo, Richard (March 10, 1994). "Lawrence E. Spivak, 93, Is Dead; The Originator of 'Meet the Press'". The New York Times – Obituaries. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  4. ^ Mott, Frank Luther (1968). A History of American Magazines, Volume V: 1905-1930. Harvard University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0674395541. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  5. ^ Nimmo, Dan D.; Newsome, Chevelle (1997). Political Commentators in the United States in the 20th Century: A Bio-critical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 311. ISBN 978-0313295850. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  6. ^ Mott 1968, p. 24
  7. ^ Lawrence E. Spivak Papers at the Library of Congress; Gale, Robert L., A Dashiell Hammett Companion, Greenwood Press, 2000, p. 237
  8. ^ Unger, Arthur, "Spivak: 28 Years of Newsmaking"; The Christian Science Monitor News Service, November 15, 1975

External links

Preceded by
Ned Brooks
Meet the Press Moderator
January 16, 1966 – November 9, 1975
Succeeded by
Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe (journalist)

William Blanc "Bill" Monroe Jr. (July 17, 1920 – February 17, 2011) was an American television journalist for NBC News. He was the executive producer and fourth moderator of the NBC public affairs program Meet the Press (1975–84), succeeding Lawrence E. Spivak, the program's co-founder and third moderator.

Black Orchids (novella)

"Black Orchids" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella by Rex Stout, first published in abridged form as "Death Wears an Orchid" in the August 1941 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Black Orchids, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1942.

Booby Trap (novella)

"Booby Trap" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella by Rex Stout, first published in the August 1944 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form as the second novella in the short-story collection Not Quite Dead Enough, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1944.

Cordially Invited to Meet Death

"Cordially Invited to Meet Death" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella by Rex Stout, first published in abridged form as "Invitation to Murder" in the April 1942 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form in the short-story collection Black Orchids, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1942.

Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories

Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories, is a mystery short story collection written by John Dickson Carr and first published in the US by Lawrence E. Spivak (The American Mercury) in 1947.

Most of the stories feature his series detective Gideon Fell.

Fer-de-Lance (novel)

Fer-de-Lance is the first Nero Wolfe detective novel written by Rex Stout, published in 1934 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. The novel appeared in abridged form in The American Magazine (November 1934) under the title "Point of Death". The novel was adapted for the 1936 movie Meet Nero Wolfe. In his seminal 1941 work, Murder for Pleasure, crime fiction historian Howard Haycraft included Fer-de-Lance in his definitive list of the most influential works of mystery fiction.

List of old-time American radio people

Listed below are actors and personalities heard on vintage radio programs, plus writers and others associated with Radio's Golden Age.

Martha Rountree

Martha Rountree (October 23, 1911 – August 23, 1999) was an American pioneering broadcast journalist and entrepreneur. She was the creator and first moderator of a public-affairs program, first on radio as The American Mercury from June 24, 1945, and as Meet the Press on the NBC television network from November 6, 1947. She is the only female moderator in the seven-decade history of the show.

Meet the Press

Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program broadcast on NBC. It is the longest-running program in television history, though the current format bears little resemblance to the debut episode on November 6, 1947. Meet the Press specializes in interviews with leaders in Washington, D.C., across the country and even the world on issues of politics, economics, foreign policy and other public affairs, along with panel discussions that provide opinions and analysis. It originates from NBC's bureau in Washington, D.C. (WRC-TV).

The longevity of Meet the Press is attributable in part to the fact that the program debuted during what was only the second official "network television season" for American television. It was the first live television network news program on which a sitting U.S. President appeared; this occurred on the November 9, 1975 broadcast, which featured Gerald Ford.

The program has been hosted by 12 different moderators to date, beginning with creator Martha Rountree. The show's moderator since 2014 is Chuck Todd, who also serves as political director for NBC News.Currently, the hour-long program airs in most markets on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. live in the Eastern Time Zone and on tape delay elsewhere. Meet the Press is also occasionally pre-empted due to network coverage of sports events held outside the U.S. The program is also rebroadcast on Sundays at 2:00 p.m., and Mondays at 2:00 a.m. and sometimes 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time on MSNBC, whose audio feed is also simulcast on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. The program is also syndicated by Westwood One to various radio stations around the United States, as well as on C-SPAN Radio as part of its replays of the Sunday morning talk shows.

Mercury Publications

Mercury Publications (a.k.a. Mercury Press) was a magazine publishing company, owned and operated by Lawrence E. Spivak, which mainly published genre fiction in digest-sized formats. The focus of Spivak's line was on detective and mystery stories and novels, but it also included magazines about humor, fantasy, and true crime. The offices were located at 570 Lexington Avenue in New York, N.Y.

Spivak entered publishing in 1933 as the business manager of The American Mercury, and two years later, he became the magazine's publisher, expanding his operations in the late 1930s with additional titles. His subsidiary companies included Mystery House and Fantasy House. Two Mercury series were Mercury Library and Mercury Books.

Other Mercury imprints and titles included:

Bestseller Mystery Books (a.k.a. Bestseller Library)

Bestsellers magazine (beginning 1945), subtitled "Authorized Book Condensations"

The Book of Wit & Humor, edited by Louis Untermeyer and Charles Angoff

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, edited by Frederic Dannay

Jonathan Press Mystery Books

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, initially edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas

Mercury Mystery (a.k.a. Mercury Mystery Book Magazine and Mercury Mystery Magazine), edited by Joseph W. Ferman

True Crime Detective, edited by Edward D. Radin, and then by Boucher and McComasSpivak launched his Bestseller Library series in 1938, with a new title each month. In 1940, he split the Bestseller Library into Mercury Mysteries and Bestseller Mysteries. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine began in 1941, followed by the Jonathan Press Mysteries imprint in 1942. Mercury Mystery Book Magazine continued the long-run series of full-length and condensed mystery novels published in a digest-sized format, beginning with the title of Mercury Mystery in March 1940. Starting with #210, it ran for 23 issues before merging with Bestseller Mystery Magazine. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction began in 1949 under the title The Magazine of Fantasy. In the fall of 1950, Spivak sold The American Mercury to millionaire investment banker Clendenin J. Ryan, and his editor was William Bradford Huie.

Joseph W. Ferman was the business manager of Mercury Publications from 1940 to 1950. The Mercury art director from 1938 to 1958 was designer George Salter, who created about 750 covers for Mercury Publications during that time frame. After leaving the art director position, he continued to design covers for Mercury.

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express is a detective novel by British writer Agatha Christie featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 1 January 1934. In the United States, it was published on 28 February 1934, under the title of Murder in the Calais Coach, by Dodd, Mead and Company. The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the U.S. edition at $2.00.The elegant train of the 1930s, the Orient Express, is stopped by heavy snowfall, with many passengers. A murder is discovered, and Poirot's trip home to London from the Middle East is interrupted to solve the murder.

The US title of Murder in the Calais Coach was used to avoid confusion with the 1932 Graham Greene novel Stamboul Train which had been published in the United States as Orient Express.

Ned Brooks

Ned Brooks (August 13, 1901 – April 13, 1969) was an American television and radio journalist who was moderator of NBC's Meet the Press on television from 1953 until 1965, and earlier on radio. Brooks is the second-longest tenured moderator of the program, after Tim Russert.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he was raised in Warren, Ohio, and attended public schools there. He was a 1924 graduate of The Ohio State University where he became a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He began his career in newspaper reporting in Ohio at the Ohio State Journal and for Scripps-Howard newspapers for whom he covered Congress from 1932 until 1947. For five years he was managing editor of the Youngstown (Ohio) Telegram. He was later a broadcaster for Three-Star Extra, carried on NBC radio (but produced by the ad agency for its sponsor, Sunoco).

Not Quite Dead Enough

Not Quite Dead Enough is a Nero Wolfe double mystery by Rex Stout published in 1944 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. The volume contains two novellas that first appeared in The American Magazine:

"Not Quite Dead Enough" (abridged, December 1942)

"Booby Trap" (August 1944)In these two stories Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's live-in employee in all the other Nero Wolfe stories, wears the uniform of the United States Army.

Not Quite Dead Enough (novella)

"Not Quite Dead Enough" is a Nero Wolfe mystery novella by Rex Stout, first published in abridged form in the December 1942 issue of The American Magazine. It first appeared in book form as the first of two novellas in the short-story collection Not Quite Dead Enough, published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1944.


Spivak or Spivack is a surname of Ukrainian and Polish origin, meaning singer. It is also common among Ashkenazi Jews. Spivack is a Germanized or Americanized version of Spivak. The name may refer to:

Charlie Spivak (1905 or 1907–1982), American trumpeter and bandleader

Daniel Spivak (born 1988), Canadian ice hockey player

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (born 1942), Indian literary critic and professor at Columbia University

Gordon Spivack (1928–2000), American antitrust lawyer and Justice Department official

John L. Spivak (1897–1981), American communist reporter and author

Lawrence E. Spivak (1900–1994), American journalist and publisher

Lori Spivak (contemporary), Canadian jurist from Manitoba

Marla Spivak (born 1955), American entomologist and winner of the MacArthur Fellowship

Maryana Spivak (born 1985), Russian actress

Michael Spivak (born 1940), American mathematician

Spivak pronoun, a gender-neutral pronoun named after Michael Spivak

Mira Spivak (born 1934), Canadian politician from Manitoba; member of the Canadian Senate

Nissan Spivak (1824–1906), Bessarabian cantor and composer

Nova Spivack (born 1969), American internet entrepreneur

Oleksandr Spivak (born 1975), Russian football player of the FC Zenit Saint Petersburg Russian football club

Sidney Spivak (1928–2002), Canadian politician from Manitoba

The American Mercury

The American Mercury was an American magazine published from 1924 to 1981. It was founded as the brainchild of H. L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan. The magazine featured writing by some of the most important writers in the United States through the 1920s and 1930s. After a change in ownership in the 1940s, the magazine attracted conservative writers. A second change in ownership a decade later turned the magazine into a virulently anti-Semitic publication. It was published monthly in New York City. The magazine went out of business in 1981, having spent the last 25 years of its existence in decline and controversy.

The League of Frightened Men

The League of Frightened Men is the second Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout. The story was serialized in six issues of The Saturday Evening Post (June 15–July 20, 1935) under the title The Frightened Men. The novel was published in 1935 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. The League of Frightened Men is a Haycraft Queen Cornerstone, one of the most influential works of mystery fiction listed by crime fiction historian Howard Haycraft and Ellery Queen.

The Regatta Mystery

The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories is a short story collection written by Agatha Christie and first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1939. The first edition retailed at $2.00.The stories feature, with one exception (In a Glass Darkly), Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Parker Pyne, Christie's detectives. The collection was not published in the UK and was the first time a Christie book was published in the US without a comparable publication in the UK; however all of the stories in the collection were published in later UK collections (see UK book appearances of stories below).

Where There's a Will (novel)

Where There's a Will is the eighth Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout. Prior to its publication in 1940 by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., the novel was abridged in the May 1940 issue of The American Magazine, titled "Sisters in Trouble." The story's magazine appearance was "reviewed" by the FBI as part of its surveillance of Stout.

Where There's a Will was the last Wolfe novel published before World War II. Stout did not write any others during the war, resuming the series with The Silent Speaker in 1946; he did, however, continue to publish shorter works featuring the character.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.