Birthday: January 12, 1956
Died At Age: 56
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Marie Catherine Colvin
Born in: New York, New York, United States
Famous as: Journalist
Spouse/Ex-: Juan Carlos Gumucio (m. 1996 ), Juan Carlos Gumucio (m. 1996 – 2001), Patrick Bishop (m. 1989 – div. 1995)
Died on: February 22, 2012
place of death: Homs, Syria
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Oyster Bay High School, Yale University
Marie Colvin was a fearless American journalist who specialized in foreign conflict zones and was associated with ‘The Sunday Times’ until her death. Throughout her career, she covered wars all over the world. She continued to be dedicated to her job even after losing an eye in a conflict. She once managed to finish a 3,000-word article to respect her deadline even though she was badly wounded. She was also responsible for saving 1,500 lives in East Timor in 1999. She interviewed Gaddafi twice and always stated she was merely a witness of extreme events. She died in Homs, a city under siege in Syria, when Assad’s government ordered an attack on the building she was reporting from.
Childhood & Early Life
Marie Catherine Colvin was born on January 12, 1956 in Queens, New York. Her father, William J Colvin, was part of the ‘Marine Corps’ and an English teacher. He was also a Deputy County Executive in Nassau County and a World War II veteran. Rosemarie Marron Colvin, her mother, was a school guidance counselor in Long Island. Marie had four siblings: William, Michael, Aileen, and Catherine.
She attended the ‘Oyster Bay High School’ and graduated in 1974. She later attended ‘Yale University,’ where she studied anthropology. She also had the chance to take a course with John Hersey, which inspired her to become a journalist. At the same time, she began to write for the ‘Yale Daily News.’
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A year after her graduation from ‘Yale,’ she got a job at ‘United Press International,’ after having worked for a short period for a labor union. She did so well at ‘United Press International’ that in 1984, they made her the manager of their Paris bureau. Then, in 1985, she moved to ‘The Sunday Times.’ After being their Middle East correspondent, in 1995, she became their foreign affairs correspondent.
She was the first journalist who interviewed Muammar Gaddafi in 1986, after ‘Operation El Dorado Canyon.’ Later, in 2011, she was invited to interview him again, with two other journalists of her choice. In the first interview, Gaddafi talked about the impossibility of peace as long as Reagan was the president of the US.
Her focus was on the Middle East, and she covered the conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and East Timor. She saved the lives of 1,500 women and children in East Timor, after refusing to leave and continuing to report the attacks they were suffering. She stayed there even after 22 other journalists left. She made sure they were all evacuated.
After a blast in Sri Lanka, Marie lost her sight in the left eye and had to wear an eye patch for the rest of her life. However, that did not affect her passion for the job.
She suffered another attack in Sri Lanka, even after she yelled “journalist, journalist!”
Her acts of courage and persistence have inspired people for a long time. She walked 30 miles through the jungle to escape from government troops and witnessed the 2011 revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. That was when her second interview with Gaddafi took place. She chose her colleagues Christiane Amanpour and Jeremy Bowen to work with her.
These conflicts did affect her at some point, as she ended up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and needed medical help. She also sustained several injuries over the years.
Marie Colvin died on February 22, 2012. She had ignored the Syrian government and their intention to keep international journalists out of Syria. She was broadcasting from Homs through a satellite phone. The authorities located her through her phone’s signal. She said it was the most brutal conflict she had ever seen. Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik lost their lives when the building they were reporting from was attacked. Photographer Paul Conroy was with them but survived the attack. He was a reliable witness who contradicted the authorities’ claim that the bomb was set by terrorists.
Colvin won many awards and left an important legacy.
Some of her notable awards were the ‘Journalist of the Year’ award from the ‘Foreign Press Association’ (2000), the ‘Courage in Journalism’ from the ‘International Women’s Media Foundation’ (2000), the ‘Foreign Reporter of the Year’ from the ‘British Press Awards’ (2001, 2009, and 2012), and the ‘Anna Politkovskaya Award’ for ‘Reach All Women in War’ (2012).
The ‘Stony Brook University’ set up the ‘Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting’ in her honor, after her death.
Family & Personal Life
Marie Colvin was married thrice. She was married twice to the same man, journalist Patrick Bishop, and both marriages ended in divorce. She was also married to Juan Carlos Gumucio, a journalist from Bolivia, who died by shooting himself because of his depression and alcohol problems.
She lived in Hammersmith, West London.
She had her share of problems with alcohol, and although her PTSD was treated, she never got any help to get rid of her alcohol issues.
Marie’s life was documented in Lindsey Hilsum’s book ‘In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin.’ The book covered her entire career path, from her days as an idealistic young journalist to her transformation to a fierce war correspondent who had witnessed the worst conflicts and had done her best to make the rest of the world aware of their tragedy.
Marie’s sister, Cat, never gave up trying to avenge her death. In 2016 she filed a civil action lawsuit against the Syrian Government for the extrajudicial killing of her sister. As she had actually obtained some necessary pieces of evidence, she won the trial. The Government in Syria was ordered to pay the family $300 million as damages. However, the more important victory in that trial was that it proved that criminal actions against journalists would not remain unpunished. The trial set an important legal precedent.