Mitch Albom – Senior Salute
Mitch Albom is no doubt the name of a collection of remarkable Renaissance men because only one couldn’t do all that he has done in less than one lifetime. Just look at the list below, which doesn’t include the many charities his foundation has created. Seniors About Seniors salutes this exceptional talent who has built a great career for himself while devoting the same effort to building better lives for others. Here’s just a glimpse at it all.
MITCH ALBOM is an internationally renowned and best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold more than 35 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-nine territories and in forty-five languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.
He was born on May 23, 1958 in Passaic, New Jersey, the middle of three children to Rhoda and Ira Albom. Mitch grew up wanting to be a cartoonist before switching to music. He taught himself to play piano, and played in bands throughout his adolescence. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1979 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, majoring in sociology, but stayed true to his dream of a life in music, and upon graduation, worked for several years as a performer, both in Europe and America. He also wrote and produced the recording of several songs. He eventually returned to graduate school, earning a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, followed by an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. During this time, he paid his tuition partly through work as a piano player.
Mitch eventually turned full-time to his writing, working as a freelance sports journalist in New York for publications such as Sports Illustrated, GEO, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. His first full time newspaper job was as a feature writer and eventual sports columnist for The Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel in Florida. He moved to Detroit in 1985, where he became a nationally-acclaimed sports journalist at the Detroit Free Press and one of the best-known media figures in that city’s history, working in newspapers, radio and television. He currently hosts a daily talk show on WJR radio (airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m. EST) and appears regularly on ESPN Sports Reporters and SportsCenter.
In 1995, he married Janine Sabino. That same year he re-encountered Morrie Schwartz, a former college professor who was dying of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His visits with Schwartz would lead to the book Tuesdays with Morrie, which moved Mitch away from sports and began his career as an internationally recognized author.
Tuesdays with Morrie is the chronicle of Mitch’s time spent with his beloved professor. As a labor of love, Mitch wrote the book to help pay Morrie’s medical bills. It spent four years on the New York Times Bestseller list and is now the most successful memoir ever published.
His first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, is the most successful US hardcover first adult novel ever. For One More Day debuted at No.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and spent nine months on the list. In October 2006, For One More Day was the first book chosen by Starbucks in the newly launched Book Break Program. Have a Little Faith, was released in September 2009 and selected by Oprah.com as the best nonfiction book of 2009. His most recent titles, The Time Keeper and The First Phone Call from Heaven, both debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Four of Albom’s best sellers have been turned into successful TV movies. Oprah Winfrey produced the film version of Tuesdays With Morrie in December 1999, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. The film garnered four Emmy awards, including best TV film, director, actor and supporting actor. The critically acclaimed Five People You Meet in Heaven aired on ABC in winter, 2004. Directed by Lloyd Kramer, the film was the most watched TV movie of the year, with 19 million viewers. Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day, aired on ABC in December 2007 and earned Ellen Burstyn a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Most recently, Hallmark Hall of Fame produced the film adaptation of Have a Little Faith, which aired on ABC in November 2011. It starred Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford, Martin Landau, and Anika Noni Rose. In 2013, Warner Bros. optioned the film rights to The First Phone Call from Heaven for a feature film release.
An award-winning journalist and radio host, Albom wrote the screenplay for For One More Day, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and Have a Little Faith and is an established playwright, having authored numerous pieces for the theater, including the off-Broadway version of Tuesdays With Morrie (co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher) which has seen over one hundred productions across the US and Canada.
Mitch is also an accomplished song writer and lyricist. Later in his life, when music had become a sideline, he would see several of his songs recorded, including the song “Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)” which he wrote for rock singer Warren Zevon. Albom also wrote and performed songs for several TV movies, including “Cookin’ for Two” for Christmas in Connecticut, the 1992 remake directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Albom has founded eight charities, many in the metropolitan Detroit area:
He also raises money for literacy projects through a variety of means including his performances with The Rock Bottom Remainders, a band made up of writers which includes Stephen King, Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Amy Tan and Ridley Pearson. Albom serves on the boards of various charities and, in 1999, was named National Hospice Organization’s Man of the Year. In 2010, Albom was named the recipient of the Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
He lives with his wife, Janine, in Detroit, MI.