George Plimpton

George Plimpton (March 18, 1927 - September 25, 2003) created the genre of 'participatory journalism' and is best known and admired for being a "professional amateur", writing about his adventures in sports and many other walks of life, in books and magazine articles. He was a master of the literary short form, and has brought joy to many with his humor and positive outlook on life and the foibles of the world at large. An American journalist, author and editor of the Paris Review, Plimpton was born in NYC, attended Harvard University where he was an editor of the Harvard Lampoon. He then served as a tank driver in Italy for the US Army, then attended King's College at Cambridge University in England. In 1953 he joined the influential literary journal The Paris Review, becoming its first Editor in Chief, a position he continued until his death in 2003. Plimpton was most famous for competing in professional sporting events and then recording the experience from the point of view of an amateur.

In 1960, prior to the second of baseball's two All-Star games, Plimpton pitched against the National League. His experience was captured in the book Out Of My League. Plimpton sparred for three rounds with boxing greats Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson, while on assignment for Sports Illustrated. In 1963, Plimpton attended pre-season training with the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback and ran a few plays from scrimmage in an exhibition game, subsequently penning his best known book, Paper Lion. A further book, Open Net, saw him train as an ice hockey goalie with the Boston Bruins. Among other challenges for Sports Illustrated, he attempted to play top-level bridge, and spent some time as a high-wire circus performer. Some of these events were presented on the ABC television network as a series of specials. Plimpton appeared in a number of feature films, as an extra and in cameo appearances. He was also notable for his appearance in television commercials during the early 1980s, advertising Intellivision sports video games for Mattel, and for being the host of the Disney Channel's Mouseterpiece Theatre. He appeared in an episode of The Simpsons as host of the "Spellympics" and had a recurring role as the grandfather of the Dr. Carter character on the long-running NBC medical television series, ER. Plimpton died of natural causes at his apartment in New York City at the age of 76.

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