Judith Rossner

Judith Rossner
Born Judith Perelman Rossner
(1935-03-31)March 31, 1935
New York City, United States
Died August 9, 2005(2005-08-09) (aged 70)
New York City, United States
Occupation Novelist
Genre Fiction

Judith Perelman Rossner (March 31, 1935 August 9, 2005) was an American novelist, best known for her 1975 novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar. It was inspired by the murder of Roseann Quinn and examined the underside of the 1970s sexual liberation movement.[1] This was her bestselling work, and it was adapted as a film of the same name, starring Diane Keaton.[2] Rossner published other novels, set in both contemporary and historical times. Her most successful post-Goodbar novel was 1983's August, about the relationship between a troubled young woman in New York and her psychoanalyst with emotional troubles of her own.


Judith Perelman was born on March 31, 1935 in New York City into a Jewish family.[3] Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father was a textile worker. Perelman was raised in the Bronx. Her mother committed suicide and her father was alcoholic.[4] Perelman attended public schools.

She dropped out of the City College of New York to marry Robert Rossner, a teacher and writer. He is best known as a mystery novelist under the pen name Ivan T. Ross. The couple had two children, Daniel and Jean, and later divorced. Judith Rossner married twice more. She had no other children.

Judith Rossner worked as a secretary in a real estate business to support herself. She also wrote short stories and tried to sell them to women's magazines, but was unsuccessful.

Rossner's first novel, To The Precipice, was published in 1966. It and her other two early books received excellent reviews but they were not commercially successful.[5]

Soon after leaving her first husband, Rossner wrote Any Minute I Can Split (1972), about a pregnant woman who runs away to a commune. Based on this, Esquire magazine asked Rossner to write a story for them. She suggested the real-life account of Roseann Quinn, a young schoolteacher who was brutally murdered in 1973 by a man she reportedly met at a singles club. Rossner wrote the story but said Esquire lawyers killed the article because they were concerned that its publication would affect the pending trial of the murder suspect.

Rossner decided to write a novel to explore these events more deeply. It was published as Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1975). She captured some of the myths and social times as women explored sexual freedom, and studied women's passivity. The book brought her fame and wealth, allowing Rossner to quit her day job and focus full-time on writing. "Goodbar" was adapted as a successful and controversial Hollywood film, released in 1977; it featured Diane Keaton, William Atherton, Tuesday Weld, Richard Kiley and Richard Gere. The film was directed by Richard Brooks.

In 1977, Rossner published Attachments, a story about a pair of friends who marry conjoined twins. This was followed by Emmeline (1980), based on an historic Maine woman. It is the story of a fourteen-year-old farm girl who gets a factory job in Lowell, Massachusetts, to support her impoverished family. She is seduced, becomes pregnant, and loses her job. She must give the child up for adoption. Two decades later, she marries a younger man, learning only later that he is her son. Her secret revealed, she is ostracized by her town. The book was adapted as an opera, with music by American composer Tobias Picker and libretto by poet JD McClatchy. It premiered in 1996 at the Santa Fe Opera, and has been produced several times by other companies.

August, Rossner's most successful novel following 'Mr. Goodbar', was published in 1983 to critical acclaim. After this novel's publication, Rossner became seriously ill with viral meningitis.[4] She suffered memory loss and contracted diabetes, becoming unable to write for many years. Writing again, she published His Little Women in 1990 to universally poor reviews. Olivia (1994) followed. Rossner published her last novel, Perfidia, in 1997.

Rossner died on August 9, 2005 at the age of seventy at New York University Medical Center in Manhattan.[6] She was survived by her third husband, Stanley Leff, her two children, and three grandchildren.

List of works


  1. Eisen Rinzler, Carol (June 8, 1975). "Looking for Mr. Goodbar". The New York Times.
  2. "Looking for Mr. Goodbar". The New York Times.
  3. "Judith Rossner, 70; 'Mr. Goodbar' Author". The Washington Post. 2005-08-10.
  4. 1 2 Judith Rossner, 70, Novelist of 'Mr. Goodbar' - August 11, 2005 - The New York Sun
  5. CAROL EISEN RINZLER, " 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar'", New York Times, 8 June 1975, accessed 9 June 2015
  6. Martin, Douglas (August 11, 2005). "Judith Rossner, Author of 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar,' Dies at 70". The New York Times.

External links

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