Irv Kupcinet, the legendary Chicago Sun-Times columnist for 60 years, died Monday, Nov. 10 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. With him were his son, Jerry Kupcinet, and grandchildren, Kari Kupcient Kriser and David Kupcinet. He was hospitalized Sunday after suffering from shortness of breath, and doctors later determined he had pneumonia. He was 91.
From Hollywood stars to sports legends, from U.S. presidents and heads of state, to the man and woman on the street, Kup talked to everyone.
His “Kup’s Column” was an institution at the Sun-Times since the day the newspaper began in 1948, and before then the column appeared in the Chicago Times, where Kup was hired as a sports writer in 1935. At one point it was syndicated to 100 newspapers. His last column appeared Nov. 6, 2003.
He was host on the pioneering, late-night Saturday television show “At Random,” and then later, “Kup’s Show,” devoted to the “lively art of conversation.”
Kup was a tireless worker for charities — including the Variety Club of Chicago and Little City; hosting the Irv Kupcinet Open Celebrity Golf Tournament and the old Harvest Moon Ball; conducting the annual Purple Heart Cruise outings for wounded veterans for 50 years after 1945; and as the original and perennial Chicago host of the annual Cerebral Palsy telethon.
He also raised huge sums for Israeli organizations, especially the Weizmann Institute of Science. He traveled to Israel (then Palestine) in 1947 to report on the plight of Jews trying to flee the aftermath of the Holocaust. In Israel’s Judean Mountains, the Irv Kupcinet Forest now grows on what was barren land before 1960.
This past May, broadcaster and journalist Larry King emceed a star-studded evening of live and video entertainment in Chicago honoring the 60th Anniversary of “Kup’s Column.” The evening was a benefit for one of Kup’s and his late wife, Essee’s, favorite charities, The Chicago Academy for the Arts.
Just two weeks ago, Kup agreed to become a Chicago co-chair of a January fundraising event in Los Angeles sponsored the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Kup was a loving father to son, Jerry (Sue) of Los Angeles, and daughter, the late Karyn “Cookie”; adoring grandfather of Kari (Brad) Kriser and David; great-grandfather of Sam and Amaya Kriser; and fond brother-in-law to Sofia (the late Leonard) Solomon.
Services were held Nov. 12, at Temple Sholom of Chicago. Interment was at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name may be made to The Chicago Academy For The Arts, 1010 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 or to the Karyn Kupcinet School at The Weitzman Institute, 79 W. Monroe St., Suite 1111, Chicago, IL 60603. — Cheryl J. Lewin Assoc. Public Relations, Chicago