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Monday July 18, 2005

Richard Needham, 1996

Journalist born in Gibraltar on May 17, 1912.

The son of a British army officer, he spent some of his childhood in India and Ireland, and immigrated to Canada from England when he was 16. After working as a farmhand, he joined The Toronto Star as a reporter in 1930. He was fired in 1935 for what he would later call his inaccuracies. Another version states he was let go for writing unprintable stories from magistrates' court about pimps and prostitutes. He then worked at a succession of newspapers until arriving at The Globe and Mail in 1951, After twice leaving and returning, he finally settled into The Globe's newsroom in 1960 as chief editorial writer. In 1964, he launched a whimsical column about the imagined and lecherous adventures of Rudolf J. Needleberry (sometimes Rasputin J. Novgorod) and the inhabitants of the "Old T.O." which three years later won the Stephen Leacock Award for humour. In 1977, he officially retired, and his column, which was reduced to twice a week, became a collection of random thoughts. By 1985, he continued to appear almost daily in the office to handle his mail. In an interview, he said his obituary should simply state: "Richard Needham's tiresome and repetitious column will no longer appear because he is dead."

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