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Toby Barlow Headshot

A Hell of A Man

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Eliot Asinof swore like a son of a bitch. Any injustice of any size got his blood up. He swore every goddamn morning and every goddamn night. He was articulate and he was funny and boy did he have a mouth on him.

This is a man who was blacklisted by Hollywood and still had a good career. This is the writer who cracked the real story behind the Chicago Black Sox in Eight Men Out. He married Marlon Brando's sister. He served in the army with Dashiell Hammett. The world famous producer David Susskind sued him for 1.75 million dollars, back when 1.75 million dollars was something, back when Eliot didn't have a dime. "Susskind," Eliot would say with a rueful smile, "what a fucking bastard."

Rat bastards were always crossing him and he saw life's injustice everywhere. Anti-Semitism in the major leagues, anti-communism in Hollywood, racism in New York City, the rich against the poor, you name it, he saw it and he swore at it and he fought it.

After graduating from Swarthmore and almost making it up to the Phillies, Eliot worked as a traveling salesman. Once, visiting a commercial client in Ohio, Eliot got so angry with the rude and arrogant client that he leaned across the department store's counter and punched the man in the nose.

And that's how he became a writer.

None of this workshop, graduate school, literary journal bullshit, he just punched some jerk in the nose, went back to his apartment in New York, pulled the typewriter out of the box and started writing. He wrote books and TV shows and movies and he wrote every goddamn day for the rest of his life. That's what Eliot Asinof did and he did it damn well.

He died on Tuesday at the age of 88.

He was a writer, ball player, golfer, actor, fisherman (though admittedly, not a very good one,) carpenter, tailor, father, and fighter.

And the world is going to miss him 'cause there aren't many like him.

Goddamnit.