Gene Shalit is an American film and book critic who has presented his opinions on National Broadcasting Company’s The Today Show for over forty years starting from 15 January 1973 until 11 November 2010 when he retired. Shalit had, however, began working on the show on a part-time basis in 1970. He is renowned for his frequent use of pun, his fuzzy hair, a large mustache, and color bowties. We take you through the highlight of the critic’s career and his personal life including facts about his recent endeavors.
Gene Shalit Bio (Age)
Gene Shalit was born on March 25, 1926, in New York to his Jewish parents. In 1932, his family relocated to Morristown, New Jersey and there he attended Morristown High School. While he was a student at Morristown High School, he wrote a humor column for the school newspaper and was lucky to have escaped expulsion. In the early 1960s, Shalit was Dick Clark’s press agent and was reported to have ceased to represent Clark during a Congressional investigation of payola.
Since 1967, Shalit has been engaged in reviewing the arts and has written for publications which include Look Magazine, TV Guide, Seventeen, Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Glamour and the New York Times. On the National Broadcasting Company Radio Network, he wrote a daily essay “Man About Anything”. Shalit published Laughing Matters: A Treasury of American Humor in 1987, it was a critically praised humor anthology.
He hosted to a video collection from MCA Home Video called Gene Shalit’s Critic’s Choice Video, in 1986 and in 1999, Shalit lent his voice to a guest-starring role in SpongeBob SquarePants. His character was portrayed in the form of a fish food critic named “Gene Scallop”. Shalit was on some occasions portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Horatio Sanz in sketches and Weekend Update sequences.
He became the subject of controversy upon the release of his book Brokeback Mountain where he described Jack Gyllenhaal’s character as a sexual predator. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) criticized Shalit saying his branding of Jack as a sexual predator because he was romantically interested in someone of same-sex was defamatory, ignorant and irresponsible and that he used it as a medium to promote defamatory anti-gay prejudice to a national audience. Interestingly, Peter Shalit, his gay son defended his father in a letter he wrote to GLAAD.
On October 24, 2012, Gene Shalit crashed his Honda Element into a house in Lenox, Massachusetts after falling asleep on the wheel. Though his car was damaged, nobody was hurt. The owners of the house, Donald and Gracie Rawson were not home at the time of the accident. Shalit’s car was towed and he was given the summon to make an appearance before a clerk magistrate court in Great Barrington. However, the case was dismissed on April 2, 2013.
In accordance to the law of the state, if Shalit had been found guilty, maximum penalties could have included a fine ranging from $20 to $200, a 60-day suspension of his driver’s license or a jail term of two weeks to two years, which could be put on hold with probation.
Wife and Children
Gene Shalit got married to Nancy Lewis in 1950 and they both had six children together. He lived with his family for the most time in Leonia, New Jersey during his career. However, Shalit lost his wife to the cold hands of death in 1978.
His children with the late Nancy Lewis include Willa Shalit, Peter Shalit, Andrew Shalit, Emily Shalit, Nevin Shalit, and Amanda Shalit. Daughter Willa Shalit works as a social entrepreneur and strategic advisor. She is widely renowned for her work as an artist, television and theatrical producer, photographer, author, and editor.
His son, Peter Shalit is an internal medicine physician and recognized personality on gay men’s health and living with HIV. Peter is the author of Living Well: The Gay Man’s Essential Health Guide. In 2012, Gene Shalit lost his daughter named Emily to death from complications of ovarian cancer.
Love or hate him, Gene Shalit has no doubt been greatly successful at his career. Over the years in Hollywood, Shalit’s endeavors have brought him worthy paychecks enough to earn him a spot in the millionaire’s club. His net worth has been estimated at $20 million.
Where Is He Now?
It’s been increasingly quiet from Gene Shalit since he left The Today Show. As a result of his silence, rumors began to swirl that the film and literary critic was dead and gone. However, it was soon discovered to be only but one of those celebrity death hoaxes. Though the exact state of his health isn’t public knowledge, Gene Shalit is still very much alive, enjoying his aged years away from the media eye.