Most people can name at least one Times writer. Maybe you make your weekend plans based on the reviews by film critic A. O. Scott or let the street style snapshots of longtime fashion photographer Bill Cunningham inform your wardrobe choices. Or perhaps you’re a weekly reader of columnists Nicholas Kristof, Andrew Ross Sorkin, David Carr, Nick Bilton, Maureen Dowd or others.
But you may not be aware that some of the biggest names in literature, pop culture and politics have earned a byline in the Times, too.
Here are nine cultural icons who have written for The New York Times.
1. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
In the May 18, 1958 New York Times Magazine, John F. Kennedy, then a senator, penned a piece headlined “The Shame of The States” calling for change. “Growth has outrun reform. Achievement has been dwarfed by need,” he wrote. He outlined the “Perhaps an aroused public, a vigorous press, and the force of the democratic tradition will create an irresistible demand for justice.” Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President less than three years later.
2. Oprah Winfrey
TV personality Oprah Winfrey appeared on the Opinion page in April 2010 to talk about the dangers of texting and driving. In the piece, headlined “Dnt Txt N Driv,” Winfrey reminded readers that drunk driving fatalities that started slowing in the 1980s after changes in policy and mindset, and called for similar action. “This is a real problem we can do something about and get immediate results,” she wrote. “All we have to do is hang up or switch off.”
3. Stephen King
Stephen King in Bridgton Me
IMAGE: THE NEW YORK TIMES
“The American short story is alive and well. Do you like the sound of that? Me too. I only wish it were actually true.” These were the opening words of a September 30, 2007 Sunday Book Review piece penned by Stephen King—himself an author of hundreds of short stories. He talked about the shrinking audience for and attention paid to truly good short stories, and suggested that The Best American Short Stories 2007, of which he was the editor, could be the prescription for an ailing American art form.
4. Mary-Kate Olsen
In February 2007, Mary-Kate Olsen’s byline appeared above a short Style piece about her favorite accessory: a red quilted Chanel bag that, as it turns out, came from her twin sister Ashley’s closet. “I wore it to an event and never gave it back. Luckily, she’s moved on to another bag, so I’m safe for now.”
5. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie talked about a different kind of safety in a May 14, 2013 piece. In “My Medical Choice,” Jolie publicly addressed her decision to have a preventative double-mastectomy, saying it reduced her risk of breast cancer from 87% to just 5%. “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she wrote.
Bono, lead singer of U2, also addressed a medical topic when he penned an op-ed on page A39 of the December 1, 2011 paper, taking World AIDS Day as an opportunity to recognize the progress that America had made in the fight against AIDS in Africa. “This is the tipping point we have been campaigning for. We’re nearly there.”
7. Kurt Vonnegut
IMAGE: THE NEW YORK TIMES FRED R. CONRAD
Fellow author Kurt Vonnegut made an appearance in the paper in December 1990, writing a lengthy piece for the Books section. Though the Times’ Dinitia Smith called Vonnegut “counterculture’s novelist” at the time of his death, Vonnegut’s own piece was about Stranger In A Strange Land author Robert A. Heinlein. In honor of the release of the unabridged version of the book, Vonnegut said, “Some 60,000 words that were cut from Heinlein’s manuscript for reasons of economy back in 1961 are at last taking their rightful place in the body of world literature.”
8. Martin Luther King Jr.
Social issues have prompted many famous figures to put pen to paper, including civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The pastor and “I Have A Dream” speaker defined “Black Power” in a piece in the June 11, 1967 issue of The New York Times Magazine, less than a year before he was assassinated in what a Times editorial called a “national disaster.” In his piece, King called for continued efforts on civil rights, saying “non-violent direct action will continue to be a significant source of power until it is made irrelevant by the presence of justice.”
9. William Howard Taft
Former President William Howard Taft, got a byline on a full page spread in the May 31, 1914 Sunday Times, for an article headlined “Mr. Taft Tells How The Trust Law Was Made To March.” Taft had been out of the White House for only a little over two months when he penned the piece, summarizing and analyzing several court cases and opinions that impacted America’s stance on anti-trust laws.