Magazine article The Quill

OBITUARIES: Lester Ziffren

Magazine article The Quill

OBITUARIES: Lester Ziffren

Article excerpt

Lester Ziffren, 101, who broke news of the Spanish Civil War as a young reporter in Madrid and whose career encompassed stints as a movie writer, a diplomat and a public relations executive, died Nov. 12 at his home in Manhattan.

Ziffren was thought to be the oldest surviving reporter for the United Press wire service. According to a story by Adam Bernstein in the Washington Post on Nov. 20, Ziffren earned a place in the news agency's lore for his Spanish Civil War scoop revealing that army units were revolting against the government.

Bernstein wrote: "On July 17, 1936, (Ziffren) used a simple code to defy censors and get word to his editors in London. His apparently scrambled message began: 'Mothers Everlastingly Lingering Illness Likely Laryngitis Aunt Flora Ought Return Even If Goes North Later Equally Good If Only Night...'

The London desk was quick to see the news in the first letters of each word - the army had launched its fight from Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa. …

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