Critic John Leonard dies at age 69

November 6, 2008 12:36:58 PM PST
Critic John Leonard, an early champion of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and many other authors and so impassioned and informed that Kurt Vonnegut once praised him as the smartest man who ever lived," died Wednesday night at age 69.

His daughter, Jen Nessel, said he died from complications from lung cancer.

A former union activist and community organizer, Leonard was an emphatic liberal whose career began in the 1960s at the conservative National Review and continued at countless other publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Nation and The Atlantic Monthly among others. He was also a TV critic for New York magazine and a commentator for "CBS Sunday Morning."