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A newspaper and radio journalist, Pearson's muckraking and popular collection of gossipy news on key figures in public service, Washington Merry-Go-Round (1931) and its sequel, More Merry-Go Round (1932), co-written with Robert S. Allen, were published anonymously. When they pair were exposed as the authors, they were forced to resign their positions. But Pearson was subsequently hired to head the Washington Bureau of the Baltimore Sun, and the idea was revived as a regular column, first for his one-time mother-in-law Cissy Patterson's Washington Herald, then for The Washington Post. By the time of his death in 1969, the column was syndicated to over 650 newspapers nationwide.
Pearson was the author of ten books, including American Diplomatic Game (1935), The Case Against Congress: A Compelling Indictment of Corruption on Capitol Hill (1958), and his Diaries, 1949-1959 (1974).
He appeared in several Hollywood movies, most notably The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His awards include a French Legion of Honor, Norway's Medal of St. Olav, and a Sigma Delta Chi national award for best Washington journalism. He also served as President of the Washington Chapter of Big Brothers.