01/18/2007 07:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Art Buchwald Was The Maureen Dowd Of His Day

Art Buchwald died yesterday at 81. Buchwald was a relic to many younger HuffPo readers, but there was a time when many turned to Buchwald much in the way they now turn to Maureen Dowd or Doonesbury.

I write to commend one Buchwald column written in 1984 entitled "The Six Minute Louvre." Reflecting a sense of art appreciation much like my own, Buchwald recounts the attempt by an American to view the three best known pieces at the Louvre, Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory and Venus de Milo, in less than six minutes, a mark that had been approached, but never beaten.

You can follow the link and read the column yourself, I can't print it here because of copyright rules and I don't want to paraphrase it and spoil it.

Although the humor is still accessible, in some ways The Six Minute Louvre is a relic of an earlier time when Mona Lisa was not protected by a security apparatus that makes it almost impossible to see. In 1964, I walked down the hall with my family in 1964 and there it was, a nice surprise.

The Washington Post obituary for Mr. Buchwald recounts some interesting facts. Buchwald was abandoned to an orphanage by his parents. He was hospitalized for clinical depression in 1963 and for manic-depression in 1987. The Post quotes him as saying that if he had a third bout, he would be inducted into the "Bipolar Hall of Fame."

Along the way, Buchwald sued to obtain royalties on "Coming to America," receiving a judgment for $900,000. Buchwald thought he had a share of the profits, but found out that so many "expenses" had been deducted that there was nothing for him on this very successful film that was approaching $400 million in gross earnings. Famously, Eddie Murphy derided the share Buchwald contracted to receive as "monkey points."

Buchwald reached renewed prominence recently by refusing dialysis, going into a hospice and not dying soon enough. he bemoaned that he was outliving his Medicare benefits. Finally, he left the hospice for Martha's Vineyard, writing that "instead of going straight upstairs, I am going to Martha's Vineyard."