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Obituary: Jay Carr, Film Critic

Carr, of Somerville, was a longtime film critic for The Boston Globe, New England Cable News and Turner Classic Movies.

The following is from Doherty Funeral Home.

Jay Carr, longtime film critic for The Boston Globe, New England Cable News and Turner Classic Movies, died at his home in Somerville on Thursday, May 15, after a brief illness.

Carr grew up in a New York City household that read seven newspapers daily. His ability to read these papers aloud at age 3 won bets for his bartender father.

A product of New York's public schools, Carr graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and received a B.S. in Chemistry from City College. As an undergraduate, he edited the college newspaper and worked part-time as a police reporter at the Jersey City Journal. After graduation, he spent another couple of years full-time at the Journal, then moved to the New York Post where he worked his way into the drama department. During this interval, he put in two years with the Army, and in 1964 left the Post to begin his career in earnest on the Detroit News.

Carr soon established a national reputation, winning the 1970-1971 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, bestowed by the English department chairmen of Princeton, Yale and Cornell universities. That award noted his “body of dramatic criticism remarkable for its range and solidity... a lucid and self-effacing criticism, sensitive to details of theatrical technique no less than thematic substance.”

He joined The Boston Globe in 1983, where he was chief film critic until 2002. In 1989, he was named Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government for his writings on French film. In 1995, he was named to The Library of Congress's National Film Preservation Board, the body that recommends films to be named to the National Film Registry. He was a Pulitzer finalist and for many years served on selection committees for the Pulitzer, Toni and Golden Globe Awards. At the time of his death he was serving on the selection committee for the The National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. He edited and wrote six essays for the National Society of Film Critics' best-selling anthology, "The A-List: The 100 Essential Films."

His ability to draw effortlessly upon a vast knowledge of film, drama and music, plus his eloquence and wit, made his weekly segment on New England Cable News a popular one and fostered interest in his lectures nationally. Remarkably, he had not himself ever enrolled in a formal course in film or drama criticism. He had the rare distinction of having a prime time television cartoon character (Jay Sherman of The Critic) based upon him and his fellow Globe drama critic, Betsy Sherman.

He is survived by his children, Diane of San Francisco, California, Richard of Ferndale, Michigan, and Julia of Midleton, County Cork, Ireland; grandchildren Stefan, Shane, Una, Gaelen, Aaron and Ben; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family. He also leaves his partner, Rebecca FitzSimons, her two sons, a sister, Mary, and a brother, Daniel. Another brother, Robert, preceded him in death.

A celebration of Jay Carr's life is planned to take place in the Boston area around the time of his birthday in August. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to support animal rescue, film preservation or a charity of your choice. 

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