See P. O'Donnell and D. McDougal, Fatal Subtraction (1992).
Buchwald was also known for the Buchwald v. Paramount lawsuit, which he and partner Alain Bernheim filed against Paramount Pictures in 1988 in a controversy over the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America; Buchwald claimed Paramount had stolen his script treatment. He won, was awarded damages, and then accepted a settlement from Paramount. The case was the subject of a 1992 book, Fatal Subtraction: The Inside Story of Buchwald V. Paramount by Pierce O'Donnell and Dennis McDougal.
In February 2006, Buchwald checked himself into a Washington, D.C.-area hospice. Although his kidneys were failing, he elected to forego dialysis. In June 2006, Buchwald was again interviewed by Diane Rehm after leaving the hospice. He reported that his kidney was working and that he "blesses him every morning. Some people bless their hearts, I bless my kidney." He reported he was looking forward to getting a new leg and visiting Martha's Vineyard.
In July 2006, Buchwald returned to his summer home in Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard. While there, he completed a book titled Too Soon to Say Goodbye, about the five months he spent in the hospice. Eulogies that were prepared by his friends, colleagues, and family members that were never delivered (or not delivered till later), are included in the book.
He wanted to join the United States Marine Corps during World War II but was too young, so he lied about his age and bribed a drunk with half a pint of whiskey to sign as his legal guardian. From October 1942 to October 1945, he served with the Marines as part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. He spent two years in the Pacific Theater and was discharged from the service as a Sergeant.
On his return, Buchwald enrolled at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on the G.I. Bill, despite not having his high school diploma. At USC he was managing editor of the campus magazine Wampus; he also wrote a column for the college newspaper, the Daily Trojan. The university permitted him to continue his studies after learning he had not graduated high school, but deemed him ineligible for a degree; he received an honorary doctorate from the school in 1993.
In 1948 he left USC and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. Eventually, he got a job as a correspondent for Variety in Paris. In January 1949, he took a sample column to the offices of the European edition of The New York Herald Tribune. Titled "Paris After Dark", it was filled with scraps of offbeat information about Parisian nightlife. Buchwald was hired and joined the editorial staff. His column caught on quickly, and Buchwald followed it in 1951 with another column, "Mostly About People". They were fused into one under the title "Europe’s Lighter Side". The column in which Buchwald explains Thanksgiving Day to the French people in 1953 is reprinted every November. Buchwald’s columns soon began to recruit readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Buchwald also enjoyed the notoriety he received when U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower's press secretary, Jim Hagerty, took seriously a spoof press conference report claiming that reporters asked questions about the president's breakfast habits. After Hagerty called his own conference to denounce the article as "unadulterated rot," Buchwald famously retorted, "Hagerty is wrong. I write adulterated rot." On August 24, 1959, TIME magazine, in reviewing the history of the European edition of The Herald Tribune, reported that Buchwald's column had achieved an "institutional quality."
During this particular time, while in Paris, he became the only correspondent to substantively interview Elvis Presley, both at the Prince de Galles Hotel, where the soon-to-be Sgt. Presley was staying during a week-end off from his Army stint in Germany, as well in places like Le Lido. Presley's impromptu performance at the piano, as well as his singing for the showgirls after most of the customers had left the nightclub, became legendary following its inclusion in Buchwald's bestselling book, I'll Always Have Paris. It was also during this period that Buchwald was rumored to have a short-lived affair with Marilyn Monroe. The affair, if it occurred at all, apparently only lasted a few weeks, and it was said that Buchwald introduced Monroe to Judaism (to which she later converted). Monroe is said to be the basis in part for a character in Buchwald's novel A Gift From The Boys published in 1958.
Buchwald returned to the United States in 1962 and was syndicated by Tribune Media Services. His column appeared in more than 550 newspapers at its height, and he published more than 30 books in his lifetime.
In 1982, Buchwald's syndicated newspaper column won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
On February 16, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Buchwald had had a leg amputated below the knee and was staying at Washington Home and Hospice. The amputation was reportedly necessary because of poor circulation in the leg.
Buchwald invited Diane Rehm to interview him. During the show, which aired on February 24, 2006, he revealed his decision to discontinue hemodialysis, which had previously been initiated to treat renal failure secondary to diabetes mellitus. He described his decision as his "last hurrah," stating that, "If you have to go, the way you go is a big deal." He reported that he was "very happy with his choices" and was eating McDonald's on a regular basis.
Buchwald was later interviewed with Miles O'Brien of CNN in a segment aired on March 31, 2006. Buchwald discussed his living will, which documents his wishes for his doctors not to revive him if he fell into a coma. As of the date of that interview, Buchwald was still writing a periodic column. In the interview, he described a dream in which he was waiting to take his "final plane ride."
Once again a Buchwald interview with Diane Rehm aired on her show on June 7, 2006. Soon afterward, Buchwald's kidneys began working again. He summered at Martha's Vineyard, where he completed his book, Too Soon To Say Goodbye.
On November 3, 2006, Kyra Phillips interviewed Buchwald for CNN. Phillips had known Buchwald since 1989, when she had first interviewed him. On November 22, 2006 Buchwald again appeared on Rehm's show, describing himself as a "poster boy for hospices - because I lived."
Buchwald died of kidney failure on January 17, 2007, at his son Joel's home in Washington, D.C. The next day the website of The New York Times posted a video obituary in which Buchwald himself declared: "Hi. I'm Art Buchwald, and I just died.