Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 10 May 1999 (aged 68)
Key West, Monroe County, Florida, USA
Burial Norridge, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Section B, Block 9, Lot 3, Grave 1
Memorial ID 9500 · View Source
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Author, Humorist. Born Sheldon Allan Silverstein, as early as age twelve, he was drawing and writing works of strange and wondrous humor. He claimed that it was his only real talent and joked that he sometimes was more interested in it than in girls. He was quoted as saying that he had no real influences for his art and did not even see works by those he would come to admire until he was as old as 30. His formal training in art would take place at The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Silverstein first garnered professional attention during the Korean War as a writer and artist for the Army’s “Pacific Stars and Stripes.” After the war, he returned to his hometown of Chicago, taking a job as a hot dog seller at Comiskey Park where he reportedly set records with his salesmanship. In 1956, after a long dry spell of selling no work, he began his long running relationship with “Playboy Magazine” which brought him prominence and proved to be a good match. By the end of the 1950’s, his art changed to include music, and he began writing songs. A popular figure on the folk scene, he eventually collaborated with Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, Hank Snow, Buck Owens, and ‘70’s pop icon, Dr. Hook. Silverstein was the creative force behind Hook’s Top 40 hit “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone.” He also wrote the Johnny Cash smash, “A Boy named Sue” and the Irish Rovers’ “The Unicorn.” His music was also used in films. His song "I'm Checking Out" featured in the "Postcards from the Edge" was nominated for an academy award. His interests also led him into writing for the Stage and Screen, producing several plays. Among these were "The Lady or the Tiger Show," "Gorilla," "Wild Life," "Remember Crazy Zelda?," "The Crate," "The Happy Hour," "One Tennis Shoe," "Little Feet," "The Devil and Billy Markham," and "Wash and Dry." He collaborated with David Mamet on his film “Things Change.” One thing that Silverstein never intended to do (but was how he gained his worldwide fame) was to write children’s poetry. A friend insisted that he go meet a children’s book editor named Ursula Nordstrom who urged him to turn his talents in this direction. This led in 1963 to the publishing of "Uncle Shelby's Story of Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back." After that he produced “The Giving Tree,” "A Light in the Attic," "The Missing Piece," "The Missing Piece meets the Big O," and "Where the Sidewalk Ends." During his lifetime, Silverstein was described variously as a world traveler and a free spirit but also as a recluse and workaholic. When found after his fatal heart attack, he was reported to be sitting up in bed with the notes and drafts of the next project around him. Silverstein was proceeded in death by a daughter and survived by a son.

Bio by: Catharine

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 25 May 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 9500
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Shel Silverstein (25 Sep 1930–10 May 1999), Find a Grave Memorial no. 9500, citing Westlawn Cemetery, Norridge, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .