- Mary Schmich
After working in college admissions for three years and spending a year and a half in France, Schmich attended journalism school at Stanford. She has worked as a reporter at the Peninsula Times Tribune, at the Orlando Sentinel and, since 1985, at the Tribune. She spent five years as a Tribune national correspondent based in Atlanta.
Her column started in 1992 and was interrupted for a year during which she attended Harvard on a Nieman Fellowship for journalists.
In addition to writing her column, Schmich was the author of the long-lived comic strip Brenda Starr from 1985 through its final appearance in January 2011, and has worked as a professional barrelhouse and ragtime piano player.
About four times a year, Schmich and fellow Tribune metro columnist Eric Zorn write a week of columns that consist of a back-and-forth exchange of letters. Each December, Schmich and Zorn host the "Songs of Good Cheer" holiday caroling parties at the Old Town School of Folk Music to raise money for the Tribune Holiday Fund charities.
Schmich's June 1, 1997 column began with the injunction to wear sunscreen, and continued with discursive advice for living without regret. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement address she would give if she were asked to give one. The column was circulated around the Internet, with an erroneous claim that it was a commencement address by Kurt Vonnegut, usually at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the misattribution became a news item when Vonnegut was contacted by reporters to comment. He told the New York Times, "What she wrote was funny, wise and charming, so I would have been proud had the words been mine."
In 1998, Schmich published the column as a book, Wear Sunscreen. In 1999, Baz Luhrmann released a song called "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" in which this column is read word for word as written by Schmich, who gave permission and receives royalties. This song was a number one hit in several countries.
- Wear Sunscreen (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1998) ISBN 0-8362-5528-3
"Like many women my age, I am 28 years old."
- Mary Schmich's columns in the Chicago Tribune includes archive, biography and story collections
- Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young The wear sunscreen column.
- The Cyber-Saga of the 'Sunscreen' Song
- From column to song: 'Sunscreen' spreads to Chicago
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