“Humility is no substitute for a good personality.”
Frances Ann “Fran” Lebowitz (born October 27, 1950) is an American author and public speaker who is known for her sardonic social commentary on American life as filtered through her New York City sensibilities. Some reviewers have called her a modern-day Dorothy Parker.
Born and raised in Morristown, New Jersey, she was expelled from high school and receiving a GED. Lebowitz worked in many odd jobs before being hired by Andy Warhol as a columnist for Interview. This was followed by a stint at Mademoiselle. Her first book was a collection of essays titled Metropolitan Life, released in 1978, followed by Social Studies in 1981, both of which are collected in The Fran Lebowitz Reader.
She has been known, in part, for Exterior Signs of Wealth, a long-overdue, unfinished novel, purportedly about rich people who want to be artists, and artists who want to be rich. She also made several appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and had a recurring role as Judge Janice Goldberg on the television drama Law & Order from 2001 to 2007.
A heavy smoker, Lebowitz is known for her advocacy of smokers’ rights. In September 2007, Lebowitz was named one of the year’s most stylish women in Vanity Fair’s 68th Annual International Best-Dressed List; she is known for wearing several distinctive pieces including men’s suit jackets tailored by the Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard, wing-tip cowboy boots, men’s white button down shirt, Levi’s 501 jeans, and Tortoiseshell glasses.
On November 17, 2010, she returned to The Late Show with David Letterman after a 16-year absence. She discussed her years-long writer’s block, which she jokingly referred to as a “writer’s blockade.” On November 22, 2010, HBO debuted Public Speaking, a documentary about her by Martin Scorsese containing interviews and clips from speaking engagements.
An automobile enthusiast, in 2011 Lebowitz owned and drove a vintage pearl gray 1979 Checker Marathon, which she kept in the East Village in Manhattan.