'Washington Post' Columnist Marjorie Williams Dies at 47

By: Joe Strupp The Washington Post's Marjorie Williams, a columnist the paper noted was "known for her elegantly crafted essays on American society and fearless profiles of the political elite," died Sunday of cancer in her Washington home. She was 47.

In an article about her life, the paper stated, she "produced definitive journalism across a range of forms, from short essays to in-depth magazine pieces," adding she was "an editor of great promise in her twenties and became a piercing portraitist of Washington power in her thirties, writing profiles of government and media leaders for The Post and Vanity Fair magazine."

Williams had profiled famous subjects that included Bill Clinton, James A. Baker, Al Gore, Colin L. Powell, and Larry King.

In 2000, she began a weekly op-ed column in the Post that attracted an immediate and admiring audience, according to Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt. "The quality of the response to her work was remarkable," Hiatt said in Monday's paper. "While she was doing it, there's never been anything better on our page."

Williams was diagnosed with liver cancer in July 2001, the paper said.

Hiatt recalled her observations in a column from March 2000. "In years of writing about political figures," she wrote, "I have heard the friends and associates of a really striking number of men offer, as proof of the great men's warmth and cuddliness, that when their children call during work hours, they actually take the calls."

Born in Princeton, N.J., the daughter of a prominent book editor, Alan Williams, and his wife, Beverly, she had the ability to see through power to the human and vulnerable layers beneath was shaped by her childhood amid the dueling wits and clashing egos of an over-lubricated literary salon, the Post stated.

Former Post executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee said, "She had that miracle touch. She made people feel so good -- about life and the paper and everything."

Her final column, published Nov. 3, 2004, discussed what she knew was likely her last Halloween. She described her third-grader dressed up in a rock star costume.


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