About Stu B.

Stu Bykofsky was a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News until 2019.

 

Hired as features editor in 1972, he became a columnist in 1987 when he began writing the popular “Byko” gossip column, which ran four times a week. Celebrity focused, often controversial, it was one of the most widely read columns in the city.

 

In 2004, Bykofsky switched to a twice-weekly metro/general interest column. In 2016, the column was added to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Frequent topics included illegal immigration, race, gun policy, animal issues, bicycle lanes, politics, celebrity cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Philadelphia’s unique Mummers.

 

Before accepting the job of columnist, the New York City native and Brooklyn College graduate served the tabloid as TV critic, theater critic, copy editor and features writer.

 

Bykofsky is a long-time member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and Philadelphia’s Pen & Pencil Club, which he served as secretary for several decades; the NAACP, the Humane Society of the U.S., and Greenpeace, among others.

 

Bykofsky received numerous awards for writing. He was selected as the best Philadelphia columnist by Philadelphia Magazine in 2011. He received the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in 2003.

 

He held several posts in Local 10 of The Newspaper Guild and was a leader of a record 1985 46-day strike.

 

In 1991, Bykofsky created a unique Candidates Comedy Night, at which candidates for political office got on stage and tried to win laughs. Participants included candidates for mayor, Congress, U.S. Senate, judicial offices and governor. In the 25 years it ran, it raised $500,000 for Variety, the Children’s Charity.

 

In 2004, Bykofsky wrote an expose of the city animal shelter that led to City Council hearings, removal of the management team, and complete reform.

 

Philadelphia children who excel in school get VIP tickets to mayor’s boxes, based on suggestions he made in 2009.

 

Since 2011, he campaigned to get a wrongly-sentenced incarcerated murderer the sentence he had been promised. In 2021, Marcus Perez was re-sentenced, and then paroled.

 

Bykofsky retired from daily journalism on July 12, 2019, after 60 years as a professional, and immediately launched his blog, stubykofsky.com

 

In 2021, he came out of retirement to join the Philadelphia Weekly as a contributor. That lasted a year until the weekly was sold.

A Note from Stu

One night in January 1981 I was standing on the balcony of the Presidential Suite of L.A.’s Century Plaza Hotel, drinking Jack Daniels at a hospitality suite open bar paid for by NBC. I was the TV critic of the Philadelphia Daily News. Standing next to me was Tom Jicha, TV critic of the Miami News. We were looking west toward the Pacific, beyond the glittering towers of Westwood.

“Who would have thought a couple of kids from the South Bronx would be standing here, drinking top shelf liquor, looking down on the world?” I asked.

The son of bottom-of-the-barrel, working-class parents, journalism took me to places, and put me among people I would never have dreamed possible.

I lived on Timpson Place for the first 15 years of my life. Jicha lived across the street, on Avenue St. John. Our meeting in L.A. was a coincidence. We hadn’t seen each other since childhood, yet had stumbled into the same line of work for tabloid newspapers in different cities.

My family moved from a Bronx tenement to a Brooklyn public housing project, and it was a step up. For the first time I had my own bedroom, and our apartment had air-conditioning.

We moved in as the Dodgers moved out.

Two years later, in 1959, I got my first job in journalism as a copyboy at New York’s World-Telegram & The Sun. I was 17.

I ended my career, 60 years later in 2019, as a columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News and the Inquirer. A shotgun marriage merged the two papers in 2017, but I remained Daily News in my soul.

Over the decades, I won a bunch of awards for writing and reporting. My most meaningful win was the 2003 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, in large measure recognizing $500,000 I raised for charity. The fund-raising vehicle was the unique Stu Bykofsky Candidates Comedy Night, in which I got political candidates to stand up and tell jokes in public -- and charged them for the privilege. I did the show for 25 years.

In addition to daily newspapers, I spent a few years in the business press covering fields as wildly diverse as municipal bonds, toys, footwear, and millinery. I freelanced as a travel writer for TravelAge-East, and was the managing editor of Black Careers, a magazine for African-American college graduates published by the wonderful Emory Washington, the first Black Republican I ever met. I have filed stories from all over the United States -- from San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Phoenix. I covered Philly teams in the World Series, the Stanley Cup, the NBA Finals, but missed the Super Bowl.

I have bylines from Brazil, the Caribbean, France, Panama, Iceland, Thailand, and Israel, where I covered Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic 1977 peace mission.

This is pretty amazing for someone whose family from the projects never got further than Niagara Falls on vacation.

Journalism sent me around the world, and brought me into contact with local, state, and national politicians, celebrities, athletes — and criminals.

A few highlights: Actor Rip Torn threw a punch at me, Joan Collins flirted with me, Tug McGraw and Larry King threatened to sue me, Debbie Allen danced with me, Gregory Hines and Bobby Rydell drank with me, and James Michener said he read me.

It is just too unlikely.

Along the way, I’ve had four dogs, three wives, two kids, one cat. I’ve published two other books and have written more words than Shakespeare and Hemingway combined. To less acclaim.

This book was decades in the making. I thank my loyal, loving, and patient best friend, the woman I call Half-Pint, for proofreading it, and for giving my life serenity.

—Stu Bykofsky