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Richard N. Goodwin

Richard N. Goodwin
Born Richard Naradof Goodwin
(1931-12-07) December 7, 1931
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality United States
Alma mater Harvard Law School
Tufts University
Occupation Writer
Spouse(s) Sandra Gail Leverant (1958–1972; her death; 1 child)
Doris Kearns Goodwin (1975-present; 2 children)

Richard Naradof Goodwin (born December 7, 1931) is an American writer who may be best known as an advisor and speechwriter to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and to Senator Robert F. Kennedy.


  • Life and career 1
  • Books 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Life and career

Goodwin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Belle (Fisher) and Joseph C. Goodwin, an engineer.[1] He attended Brookline High School and graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1953. He went on to study at Harvard Law School, graduated summa cum laude in 1958 and joined the Massachusetts State bar the same year. He was married to Sandra Leverant from June 15, 1958 until her death in 1972. After clerking for United States Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1958, Goodwin came to Senator John F. Kennedy's attention in 1959 while working as special counsel to the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Goodwin was involved in investigating the Twenty One quiz show scandal (which provided the story for the 1994 movie Quiz Show in which he is portrayed by actor Rob Morrow).

Goodwin joined Kennedy's speech writing staff in 1959, and after Kennedy's successful presidential bid, served as assistant special counsel to the President in 1961. Goodwin was also a member of Kennedy's Task Force on Latin American Affairs and in 1961, was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, a position he held until 1963. As one of Kennedy's specialists in Latin-American affairs, Goodwin helped develop the Alliance for Progress, an economic development program for Latin America, and met secretly with Che Guevara in Uruguay in August 1961. From 1963 to 1964, Goodwin served as secretary-general of the International Peace Corps and in 1964 became special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Goodwin was specifically named by Johnson to write Johnson's 1965 civil rights speech, a speech considered one of the best, if not the best of Johnson's speeches. Goodwin, who expected to write the speech was at Arthur M. Schlesinger's house the night before, but went to bed when he went home because he never got a call. Jack Valenti gave the writing duty to Horace Bugsby, so when Johnson came in he asked Valenti how's Goodwin doing on the speech and when Johnson was told that Horace had written it he said "What! Don't you know that a liberal Jew has his finger on the pulse of America." [2] He has been credited with naming Johnson's legislative agenda "the Great Society."

Goodwin left government service in 1965, though he returned briefly in 1968 to write speeches for presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy and Edmund Muskie. According to Time magazine, he left the White House because of an investigation the FBI had taken against him, the specifics of which are unknown.[3] After leaving government, Goodwin served as a Fellow on the faculty in the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut from 1965 to 1967 and as a visiting professor of public affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968. After Senator Robert Kennedy's assassination he retired from politics and became a writer.

Goodwin served briefly as political editor of Rolling Stone magazine; New York Magazine called his tenure a "costly fiasco."[4] He has also published in The New Yorker and issued numerous books, articles and plays. In 2003, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, England, produced his new work The Hinge of the World, which took as its subject matter the 17th Century conflict between Galileo Galilei and the Vatican.[5] Retitled Two Men of Florence (referring to Galileo and his adversary Pope Urban VIII, who as Cardinal Maffeo Barberini had once been Galileo's mentor), the play made its American debut at the Huntington Theatre in Boston in March 2009.[6]

In 1975, Goodwin married Doris Kearns Goodwin,[7] with whom he has two children: Michael, and Joseph. He also has a child, Richard, from his first marriage to Sandra Leverant.


  • Goodwin, Richard N. (1998). The Hinge of the World: In Which Professor Galileo Galilei, Chief Mathematician and Philosopher to His Serene Highness the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and His Holiness Urban VIII Battle for the Soul of the World. Farrar Straus & Giroux.  
  • Goodwin, Richard N. (1988). Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties. HarperCollins.  
  • Goodwin, Richard N. (1992). Promises to Keep. Random House.  


  • "John F. Kennedy Library and Museum". Finding Aid to the Personal Papers of Richard N. Goodwin. Archived from the original on October 26, 2005. Retrieved September 9, 2005. 
  1. ^ Current Biography. 1969. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  2. ^ "". Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ "From TIME's Archives: The Truth About J. Edgar Hoover". Time. December 22, 1975. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hoge, Warren (April 9, 2003). "Speechwriter With a Second Act; For a Play About Titans, Richard Goodwin Draws on His Experience". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Rizzo, Frank (March 12, 2009). "Review: ‘Two Men of Florence’". Variety. 
  7. ^ Roughier, Ray (March 15, 1995). "The Natural TV producers love Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian and baseball fan, who is right at home in front of a camera. Now Mainers will have three chances to see her in person". Portland Press Herald. p. 1C. Retrieved September 6, 2009. 

External links

  • Richard N. Goodwin at the Internet Movie Database
  • Richard Goodwin biography
  • Goodwin's Descriptions of meeting Che Guevara, in Kennedy Documents Boston Globe, January 26, 2009
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