December 21, 2008 / 1:10 PM / 10 years ago

Renowned Reuters correspondent Spiegelman dies at 68

LOS ANGELES, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Arthur Spiegelman, one of Reuters’ finest writers and longest-serving correspondents, died at home in Los Angeles on Saturday. He was 68.

In his 42 years with Reuters, Spiegelman deployed his sparkling prose on presidential elections, the diplomatic turning points of the Cold War and showbiz murder trials.

A man with a ready wit, he said he was rendered speechless only once, when he interviewed Italian actress Sophia Loren and her beauty left him without words.

Of all his beats and exclusives, he remembered most fondly breaking the news that the Soviet Union was going to relax its restrictions on Jewish emigration in the 1980s.

“Art’s writing was beloved of readers and editors alike, using a light touch to explore subjects from pop culture to politics and an ability to find a laugh or wry angle anywhere. He was a friend and mentor to legions of journalists,” said Reuters Editor-In-Chief David Schlesinger.

Spiegelman’s graceful prose and unfailing sense of humor made him one of the most admired correspondents at Reuters. He retired last month on grounds of ill health.

He was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. After a stint at The Record in Hackensack, New Jersey, Arthur joined Reuters in 1966 and was posted to London where he edited stories for American clients. He then worked as a reporter, covering the Northern Ireland conflict among many other events.

He transferred to New York in 1972, working as chief editor and national correspondent before moving in 1985 to Manila to cover the upheavals of the Ferdinand Marcos government.

After a further stint in New York as a national correspondent he moved to Los Angeles in 1997 where he specialized in the entertainment industry. In 2006, he was named one of Reuters’ journalists of the year.

Generous with his time and hospitality, Spiegelman mentored hundreds of young journalists. His office door was always open and his home a regular venue for meals and parties. He was renowned for his crisp and witty lead paragraphs, an incredibly messy desk, and his infectious giggle.

Spiegelman covered U.S. presidential campaigns from 1976 to 1996, and was frustrated that his struggle with cancer kept from him covering this year’s election.

He covered the murder of John Lennon in 1980, the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Moscow in 1988, the Gulf War of 1990-91, and the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995.

Spiegelman said the highlights of his late career focus on entertainment included interviews with Kirk Douglas, comic Don Rickles, and Sophia Loren.

Outside of work, Arthur was a jazz buff, loved books and New York bagels, and enjoyed his summers at the family’s cabin in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. (Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Sean Maguire)

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