George Goodman, the U.S. writer and commentator who provided insights into Wall Street culture and made complex financial concepts simple to viewers of the 1980s TV series “Adam Smith’s Money World,” has died. He was 83.
Goodman died yesterday at University of Miami Hospital in Florida, according to his son, Mark Goodman. The cause was complications from acute myeloid leukemia.
Best known by his pseudonym Adam Smith, Goodman became a valued teacher to average investors through books such as “The Money Game” (1967), “Supermoney” (1972) and “The Roaring ’80s” (1988). From oil prices to housing-market speculation and government debt, the Harvard-educated author portrayed economic malady with witty anecdotes that still managed to deliver a serious message. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson described “The Money Game” as “a modern classic.”
“I was worried that if one ayatollah could, in short time, cause oil to go up, the truckers then to go on strike, the airlines to flirt with bankruptcy, the defense budget to gather momentum, the Japanese to replace us as the buyers of Iranian oil -- what if there was another fanatic Islamic cleric somewhere dictating into cassettes?” he wrote in his 1981 book “Paper Money.”
Goodman continued to carve out his niche in business journalism by giving Americans a grounding in economics and finance through his TV series “Adam Smith’s Money World,” which premiered in 1984 on Public Broadcasting Service. Borrowing his nom de plume from the 18th-century Scottish philosopher, Goodman covered one topic per show. The 30-minute documentary series ran for 13 years.
A contributing editor and vice president of New York magazine, he began using a pseudonym to keep his revelations of Wall Street anonymous. Goodman, who went by “Jerry” among his friends, became an editorial-board member at the New York Times in 1977, was executive editor of Esquire magazine for three years, and editorial chairman of N.J. Monthly during the late 1970s.
“He changed the way we think about financial journalism,” Peter Landau, who succeeded Goodman as editor of Institutional Investor, said in a profile on TJFR Group/MasterCard’s Business News Luminaries website. “Instead of being told that the Dow Jones Industrials declined two points or something equally boring, all of a sudden we were awakened to the fact that exciting things happen on Wall Street.”
George Jerome Waldo Goodman was born on Aug. 10, 1930, in St. Louis, to the former Viona Cremer, a medical secretary, and Alexander Goodman, a lawyer. He grew up in Clayton, Missouri. His father often represented poor farmers at no charge and had socialist leanings, according to Mark Goodman.
“My dad used to have big arguments with him,” Mark Goodman said yesterday in a telephone interview.
After receiving a draft notice, Goodman entered the U.S. Army as an enlisted man, declining service as an officer, because the commitment for enlisted personnel was two years instead of three, according to his daughter, Susannah Goodman. He was assigned to the Army’s First Special Operations Command as an intelligence analyst, she said yesterday in a telephone interview.
His journalism career began at Collier’s magazine and Barron’s before he took a job as associate editor of Time and Fortune magazines in 1958. Goodman then became vice president of the Lincoln Fund for two years, wrote screenplays in Los Angeles and returned to New York as editor of Institutional Investor, according to “Literary Journalism: A Biographical Dictionary of Writers and Editors,” by Edd Applegate.
In 1961, he married the former Sallie Brophy, a stage and film actress. At their wedding in a Manhattan apartment, two of her friends, the composers Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, performed at a piano “One Hand, One Heart” from their musical “West Side Story,” Susannah Goodman said.
His wife died in 2007. In addition to their two children, Goodman is survived by his partner Lynda Richards. They lived in Miami.
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