Satirist P.J. O'Rourke dies at 74: 'His work was wonderful. His heart was even better'

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Journalist and political satirist P.J. O'Rourke has died. He was 74 years old.

Author and NPR host Peter Sagal confirmed the news of O'Rourke's death on Twitter.

"I'm afraid it's true," Sagal wrote. "Our panelist and my dear friend PJ O'Rourke has passed away. More later."

O'Rourke died from complications of lung cancer Tuesday morning, said Deb Seager, director of publicity at Grove Atlantic Inc. Books, in a statement.

O'Rourke was a Toledo, Ohio, native who evolved from long-haired student activist to wavy-haired scourge of his old liberal ideals, with some of his more widely read take downs appearing in a founding counterculture publication, Rolling Stone. His career otherwise extended from the early years of iconic humor magazine National Lampoon to a brief stint on “60 Minutes,” in which he represented the conservative take on “Point/Counterpoint,” to frequent appearances on NPR's game show “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!”

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O'Rourke was also a prolific USA TODAY bestselling writer, authoring such popular titles as "Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government," "Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice and Alcohol-Free Beer" and "All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty."

“P. J. was one of the major voices of his generation," said Morgan Entrekin, publisher of Grove Atlantic. "His insightful reporting, verbal acuity and gift at writing laugh-out-loud prose were unparalleled. From his classics Modern Manners and Parliament of Whores to How the Hell Did This Happen, a result of his dismay at the 2016 election — P. J. kept providing fierce, smart, always amusing reports on the American condition.”

Sagal said O'Rourke's personal character exceeded the quality of his work. "His work was wonderful. His heart was even better," Sagal tweeted.

"Most well known people try to be nicer than they are in public," Sagal wrote. "PJ was the only man I knew to be the opposite. He was a deeply kind and generous man who pretended to be a curmudgeon for public consumption."

He added: "He told the best stories. He had the most remarkable friends. And he devoted himself to them and his family in a way that would have totally ruined his shtick had anyone ever found out."

A number of writers and journalists have taken to social media to commemorate O'Rourke and his impact.

"He was a brilliant satirist, I learned and took inspiration from his work," satirist Christopher Moore tweeted. "Plus, for me he was an example that a kid from Toledo could make it. Very sad about this."

"What a loss; great guy," CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted. "My deepest condolences to his family and friends."

"One of America’s smartest, funniest writers & the ultimate Gonzo journalist," tweeted Piers Morgan, broadcast journalist and host. "Loved interviewing him, always so sharp & entertaining. Huge loss."

"What horrible news. Just awful," tweeted Jonah Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Dispatch. "Yeah, he was a unique talent. But he was also just a really good dude. R.I.P."

"I’m devastated to hear that the brilliant PJ O’Rourke—my colleague for the last year and a half—has just passed away," tweeted talk show host Trish Regan. "PJ’s humorous style was unrivaled. It was an honor to have work w/ him. He was truly one of the GREATS."

O'Rourke is survived by his wife Christina and three children.

Contributing: Associated Press.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: P.J. O'Rourke: Journalist, satirist dies at 74