Tom Shales Obituary, Pulitzer Prize-winning TV CriticTom Shales Obituary, Pulitzer Prize-winning TV Critic

Tom Shales, a renowned TV critic and Pulitzer Prize winner from The Washington Post has passed away, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of television commentary. Let’s delve into the life and achievements of Thomas William Shales.

Who was Tom Shales

Thomas William Shales, an accomplished American writer and television critic, held the role of a television critic at The Washington Post from 1977 to 2010. His remarkable contributions to the field earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1988.


Known as Tom Shales, his full name was Thomas William Shales.

Age and Date of Birth

Born on November 3, 1944, in Elgin, Illinois, United States.

Place of Birth and Place of Residence

Hailing from Elgin, Illinois, Tom Shales spent his life making significant contributions to the field of television criticism.

Date of Death

Tom Shales passed away on January 13, 2024, at the age of 79, in a hospital in Fairfax County, Va.

Death Cause

Complications from COVID and renal failure led to his demise, as reported by his caretaker Victor Herfurth.

Family (Parents and Siblings)

His father, who operated a towing service and body shop, served as a part-time mayor in the 1960s. His mother managed a clothing store.


Tom graduated from Elgin High School in 1962 and later attended Elgin Community College before transferring to American University in Washington, D.C. At American University, he held the position of editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Eagle, during the 1966–1967 academic year.

Career and Accomplishments

Joining The Washington Post in 1972 as a Style section writer, Shales ascended to become the chief television critic in 1977. Over three decades, he provided insightful cultural commentary covering a wide range of genres and mediums, from late-night talk shows to State of the Union speeches and network sitcoms to nightly news programs.

In 1988, Tom Shales received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his collection of work from 1987, including his notable piece “Bork and Biden,” a witty review of the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. In 2006, he took a buyout from The Post but continued on contract for an additional four years before parting ways due to salary-related reasons.

During his time at The Post, Shales also contributed as a film critic at NPR, offering his snarky yet insightful takes on various movies. His critiques ranged from praising the enduring qualities of “Star Wars” to condemning the cynicism of “American Pie 2.”

Books: Legacy and Obituary

Apart from his work as a critic, Tom Shales co-authored two best-selling oral histories, “Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live” (2002) and “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” (2011) with journalist James Andrew Miller.

In 2015, Focus Features optioned “Live From New York” for adaptation into a film, cementing Shales’ influence in the realms of both television and literature.

Check also, Edward Jay Epstein Obituary, Investigative Journalist Dies at Age 88

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