Raymond Walter Apple Jr. (November 20, 1934 – October 4, 2006), known to all as "Johnny," but bylined as R.W. Apple Jr., was an associate editor at The New York Times, where he wrote on a variety of subjects, most notably politics, travel, and food.
Early life and education
Born in Akron, Ohio, Apple graduated from Western Reserve Academy, a private, coeducational boarding school in the small town of Hudson, Ohio, where he first practiced journalism at the school's newspaper, "The Reserve Record." Apple first attended Princeton University, where he was suspended from school several times for devoting too much time to working on the Daily Princetonian. He later graduated from the Columbia University School of General Studies in 1961.
He began his career with The Wall Street Journal in the 1950s, covering business and social issues, including the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. He served as a journalist and speechwriter in the United States Army from 1957 to 1959, and returned to the Wall Street Journal after completing his service. In 1961, he went to work at NBC News, becoming the lifelong friend of a then young Tom Brokaw. While at NBC, Apple reported for the Huntley-Brinkley Report and won an Emmy Award for his work. In the last of his 29 appearances on the Charlie Rose talk show, he said that the most satisfying time of his career was when he was reporting on the American civil rights movement.
Career in journalism
Apple joined The New York Times in 1963, and over more than 30 years, contributed foreign correspondence from over 100 countries, including coverage of the Vietnam War – where his penetrating questioning helped expose the unreliability of the military briefings known as the Five O'Clock Follies – the Biafra crisis, the Iranian revolution, and the fall of Communist governments in the Soviet bloc. In addition, he served as the Times' bureau chief in Saigon, Lagos, Nairobi, London and Moscow.
Timothy Crouse profiled Apple in his book The Boys on the Bus about journalists covering the 1972 presidential campaign. Reporters "recognized many of their own traits in him, grotesquely magnified. The shock of recognition frightened them. Apple was like them, only more blatant. He openly displayed the faults they tried to hide: the insecurity, the ambitiousness, the name-dropping" and "the weakness for powerful men."
From 1993 to 1997 he was chief of the Times's Washington, D.C. bureau. He also served as the newspaper's National Political Correspondent in the 1970s and covered the 1972 presidential election.
Beyond the Times and the Journal, Apple has been published in many prominent magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, GQ, and Gourmet.
His first marriage to Edith Smith, a former vice-consul in Saigon, ended in divorce.
He married Betsey Pinckney Brown in 1982. They maintained residences at 1509 28th Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C. in the Georgetown neighborhood; on a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; and in the Cotswold region of England.
Apple was widely known as an expert on food and wine, and has lectured on those as well as political, social, and historical topics on several continents. According to his New York Times colleague Adam Nagourney, "Johnny was the person to call for a restaurant recommendation when heading anywhere around the globe. To his eternal credit, he never kept secrets; he wrote about the places he discovered and loved. I soon learned a trick to find his recommendations without pestering him: I would search Nexis using three elements: his byline, the name of a city and the phrase “my wife, Betsey.” For his 70th birthday, Apple threw a party at his favorite Paris bistro Chez l'Ami Louis that Calvin Trillin wrote about in Gourmet Magazine: 'It's my understanding that Apple has simplified what could be a terribly difficult choice by telling them to bring everything."
On October 4, 2006, Apple died from complications of thoracic cancer. His last article published for the New York Times while he was still alive was an article on Singapore cuisine that was published on September 30, 2006. The last New York Times article he wrote, entitled "The Global Gourmet," was published posthumously on October 5, 2006. The article was meant to be published in the Times' travel section several weeks later but was brought forward due to his unexpected death.
Honors and awards
Apple was the recipient of a number of honors and fellowships, including the Chubb fellowship at Yale University.
He was the chair of the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee for the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.
He received honorary degrees from several institutions, including Denison University, Knox College, Gettysburg College, Marquette University, and the University of the South.
- American Danish can be doughy, heavy, sticky, tasting of prunes and is usually wrapped in cellophane. Danish Danish is light, crisp, buttery and often tastes of marzipan or raisins; it is seldom wrapped in anything but loving care. ("The Danish Worth an Ocean Voyage", New York Times, November 22, 1978)
- Some of our best journalists take themselves even more seriously than the politicians they write about. (Reader's Digest, 1986)