During a 30-year career with Ebony, Jet and Negro Digest magazines, Mr. Robinson wrote about the Watts riots and trailblazing African-American engineers, surgeons, sports figures, pilots and politicians.

The stars he profiled respected him for his focus on facts instead of gossip. Sammy Davis Jr. told him that when he was selling out shows in Las Vegas, his Caucasian valet had to place his bets. The entertainer became godfather to Mr. Robinson’s daughter, broadcast anchor Robin Robinson, now of Chicago’s WBBM NewsRadio.

Mr. Robinson, 88, died of heart failure Oct. 2 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Growing up in the Texas town of Mineral Wells, most of the African-American men he saw worked as waiters, janitors and bellhops, or they shined shoes for a living, Robin Robinson said.

His grandfather, James Umphrey Wyatt, waited tables at the Baker Hotel, a health resort that hosted entertainers Will Rogers, Judy Garland, Clark Gable and Marlene Dietrich.

His mother, Bessie, worked as a domestic. Whenever she had enough money saved, she took courses at Prairie View A&M College. Bessie Robinson qualified as a teacher of home economics and became a school principal.

She procured an old typewriter and insisted young Louie learn to type so he could do “inside” work.

“Before he could go out and frolic, he had to produce a certain number of typewritten pages,” his daughter said.

He devoured newspapers about the world outside of Mineral Wells — Baltimore’s Afro-American, the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier.

Mr. Robinson attended the only journalism school in existence at the time at a historically black college — at Lincoln University in Missouri.

Drafted toward the end of World War II, he was stationed on Oahu and at Fort Lewis in Washington. His mother’s insistence on typing proficiency came in handy when GIs were being ordered to dig up tree stumps. Typing meant he “never did another day’s honest work” in the Army, he told people.

After the Army, he joined The Afro-American in Baltimore. He produced fives stories from his first assignment covering a bizarre death on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — on the headless body found in a burnt-out home; the reaction of neighbors; a nearby burglary wave, and,  a weekend music recital in the same town. His fifth story was about his first flight — on the plane to the Eastern Shore.

After publisher John H. Johnson recruited him to join Chicago’s Johnson Publishing, Robinson settled in Hyde Park. He and his family moved to Claremont, California, when Mr. Robinson became West Coast editor.

“If you open up an Ebony from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, you’ll see something written by my dad,” his daughter said. “There were times when three-quarters of the content was written by my dad.”

She recalled watching the result of Bessie Robinson’s typing lessons: “His fingers would fly across the keyboard, and words with no errors would fly across the page.”

Mr. Robinson helped Poitier organize his books “This Life” and “Life Beyond Measure.” In an email sent after Mr. Robinson’s death, Poitier told his family, “He has always stood strong and he has always reached out to those in need.”

Mr. Robinson co-wrote “The Nat King Cole Story” with the singer’s wife, Maria Cole, and collaborated with Ashe on “Getting Started in Tennis.” In 1972, he wrote “The Black Millionaires.”

Louie Robinson / provided photo.

He interviewed the Jackson 5 when Michael Jackson was 11. Jackson ended the session with, “Hey Louie, don’t forget. Be cool.”

Pioneering journalist Louie Robinson and Mati, his wife of 62 years.,

His children believe that Mati, his wife of 62 years, extended his life by cooking him only non-fried food.

He’s also survived by two more daughters, Toni Frazer and Stacy Robinson-Hinkhouse; a son, Michael; 10 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. His sons Ronald and Greg died before him.

He thought funerals were “a wailing bad time” but his family plans to hold a celebration of his life, possibly on the West Coast, Robin Robinson said.

Source: Chicago SunTimes