Fran Lebowitz

b. October 27, 1950

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Fran Lebowitz until we are able to commission a full entry.

Photo of cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz in 2011 by Christopher Macsurak, via Wikimedia Commons.

Known as much for her signature men’s jackets, cowboy boots, and tortoiseshell glasses as for her stunning (and often scathing) social commentary, Fran Lebowitz has spent a lifetime critiquing cultural norms. Lebowitz earned a GED and worked several odd jobs before Andy Warhol hired her as a columnist for Interview Magazine in 1972. She began by covering “Best of the Worst” movies, then renamed her column “I Cover the Waterfront” and started offering cultural commentary on everything from fashion to the AIDS crisis, all with a trademark acid wit that made many consider her a successor to Dorothy Parker. She went on to work at Mademoiselle and published two collections of her essays, Metropolitan Life (1978) and Social Studies (1981), before a long period of writer’s block set in. With her writing on hold, she turned to acting, playing Judge Janice Goldberg on Law & Order from 2001 to 2007 and acting in films such as Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. Over time, she began writing again and started working on a new collection of essays, Progress, which was excerpted in Vanity in 2004 and has yet to be completed as of 2023. She returned to The Late Show with David Letterman in 2010 to promote Public Speaking, a documentary in which she was featured. In 2021 she collaborated with Scorsese again on the Netflix series Pretend It's a City, where she was interviewed about New York City and other topics. In 2022 she discussed New York City’s importance to her craft on Questlove's “Quest for Craft,” emphasizing writers’ need for a sense of place. 


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Fran Lebowitz." (Viewed on April 24, 2024) <>.