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Pulitzer-Winning Journalist William Lambert Dies At 78

Investigative journalist William Lambert, who won his second Pulitzer Prize for a Life magazine report that led to the resignation of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, died Sunday. He was 78.

Lambert, of Villanova, died of respiratory problems at Bryn Mawr Hospital, said his daughter, Heather Oxberry.

“I was the only one with him. It was quiet. He had a peaceful death,” she said. “He was ill quite a while. It wasn’t something sudden.”

Lambert was considered a pioneer of modern investigative journalism, topping his career with news reports that helped compel Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas to resign in 1969.

His story said Fortas had taken $20,000 in 1966 from stock swindler Louis Wolfson while serving on the bench. Fortas resigned nine days after the story was published.

“He is the modern-day father of investigative journalism,” said former Philadelphia Inquirer Executive Editor Gene Roberts, who hired Lambert in 1974 and now teaches journalism at the University of Maryland.

At the time of the Fortas story, Lambert was Life’s top investigative journalist. He became the first member of the magazine’s investigative team in 1963 and worked there until the magazine temporarily folded in the 1970s.

Wallace Turner and Lambert shared a 1957 Pulitzer Prize for their five-part series in The Oregonian on corruption in the Teamsters Union. They became the first witnesses in a congressional hearing into the matter.


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