For more than three decades, Ivins struggled with alcoholism, described in The Nation obituary as an “occupational hazard” of journalism. In her notebooks, she wrote of her struggles, “I should like to think the biggest mistake I have made in the first 30 years of my life was to start drinking and keep drinking” and “I have wasted so much time by getting drunk … I have jeopardized my job from drinking and failed in my responsibilities as a journalist.”
Late in her life, she took some steps to treat the condition, spending some time at a “drunk school”, then attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings for the last year-and-a-half of her life.
In 1999, Ivins was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer. The cancer recurred in 2003 and again in late 2005. In January 2006, she reported that she was again undergoing chemotherapy. In December 2006, she took leave from her column to again undergo treatment. She wrote two columns in January 2007 but returned to the hospital on January 26 for further treatment.
After her death, George W. Bush, a frequent target of her barbs, said in a statement, “I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment will be missed.”
Ivins attended Smith College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She began her journalism career at the Minneapolis Tribune where she became the first female police reporter at the paper.
Ivins joined The Texas Observer in the early 1970s and later moved to The New York Times. She became a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald in the 1980s, and then the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the Times Herald was sold and shuttered. The column was subsequently syndicated by Creators Syndicate and carried by hundreds of newspapers.
She as witty and funny. She was bold and courageous.
A biography of Ivins, Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life, was co-written in 2010 by PEN-USA winning presidential biographer Bill Minutaglio and W. Michael Smith.
The Forbes Media Guide Five Hundred, 1994 stated:
“Ivins’s pithy assessments of politics and life at large crackle with broad Texas humor. Combining her talent for culling information with her razor-sharp wit, she throws a powerful knockout punch. … Whether one agrees with her or not, Ivins’s pen pierces both the brain and the funny bone.”
You are missed Molly Ivins. Thanks for the laughter.
- Molly Ivins: Kickstarter