My brilliant, brave and beautiful friend Mary Herczog lost a rare battle today, and to an especially unworthy opponent: breast cancer. She fought it heroically, and with great humor and style, for a dozen years. It finally got the better of her this morning.

I met Mary through an AOL message board, not long after I first joined the online world (way back in the dark internet ages of the early 90s). She was one of those people who went from online friend to 3D friend in a heartbeat. We traveled together, dined together, worked together (she dubbed me “designated drinker” for the Las Vegas Frommer’s books she wrote). We shared an affinity for Hello! Magazine and A.S. Byatt. She and her equally lovely husband Steve were fixtures at our dinner parties, and we always felt like lottery winners to be invited to their Labor Day barbecues and Oscar parties.

It’s unbelievable to me that she’s gone. I can’t quite accept that she won’t be sending another one of the characteristically wry emails with which she kept her “best beloveds” apprised not only of her health but of her travels, discoveries (especially food-related discoveries!), and not infrequently, of her pride at the accomplishments of her friends and family. She had the foresight to archive these emails online; you can read them and learn more about her at her website if you’d like.

I grieve for Steve; for Mary’s best friend Rick; for the many friends to whom Mary introduced us in real life and online; for everyone whose lives she touched who will feel her loss so keenly, and for me. As prepared as I was for her death, it’s been a gut-wrenching day. I miss her already.

Wishing you endless supplies of chocolate, jazz, and fluffy pillows, Mary. I love you.

Update February 17: Mary’s dear friend Lisa Derrick has written a wonderful obituary with more details o Mary’s richly-lived life. You can read it here.

Update February 19: Mary’s LA. Times obituary is here.


  1. Arlene, I am so sorry. Mary sounds like a glorious, vibrant, and courageous woman. You were blessed to know her, thank you for sharing Mary with those of us who did not.



  2. Oh Arlene, I am so, so sorry. Your friend’s suffering is over now, time to focus on those who are grieving, which includes you. I send you many hugs and I say a little prayer for Mary. May her memories always live on, through all of you. x shayma

  3. Oh Wzzy – how awful. It truly is those little times when you expect to receive an email or reach for the phone to tell a tale when those we love and lose are missed. I didn’t meet Mary but from the way you have talked about her she was sadly one of the great ones we lost. xx

  4. Arlene, I’m so, so sorry. We met Mary so briefly at Quinn’s book-signing, but she was clearly a dynamic, smart, funny and warm person. It’s stunning to think that such a vibrant presence can disappear—and of course she won’t, because she’s in you and in Steve and in everyone who loved her. Which doesn’t make the loss any easier to bear. Sending love to you.

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