Bob Greene (born March 10, 1947) is an American journalist, best known as an award-winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune newspaper for 24 years and a frequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show and other TV programs. He is also the author of books on subjects varying from Michael Jordan to small towns to U.S. presidents. He has two children, Nick and Amanda, from a 31-year marriage with the late Susan Koebel Greene.
Greene attracted national attention when he was forced to resign from his column in September 2002. He admitted having an extramarital sexual relationship 14 years earlier with a high school student who visited Greene for a school project that the writer subsequently used as the subject of a column. The admission attracted considerable attention, partly because Greene had made a name for himself as an advocate for abused children and family values, notably in his best-selling book Good Morning, Merry Sunshine: A Father's Journal of His Child's First Year, and other young women came forward with tales of his attempted sexual conquests.
The student with whom Greene had a relationship was 17, legal age in Illinois, and had graduated high school in the months between their first meeting and his invitation to take her out to dinner. Their sole hotel tryst was euphemistically described as a "sexual encounter that stopped short of intercourse" in the Chicago Tribune, and Greene claimed to Esquire Magazine that he demurred at going further, telling her "you should wait to do this with someone you love."
Originally from Bexley, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus), Greene attended Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, and became a reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Sun-Times upon graduating in 1969, receiving a regular column in the paper within two years. Greene first drew significant national attention with his book, Billion Dollar Baby (1975), a diary of his experiences as a roadie for rock musician Alice Cooper. Greene's primary focus remained his newspaper column, for which he won the National Headliner's Award for best column in 1977 from an American journalism group. Shortly afterward, Greene switched to the competing Chicago Tribune and began making occasional guest appearances on local television, eventually landing a commentary slot on the ABC news program Nightline.
During the 1990s Greene spent time covering Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls basketball team, forming an unlikely friendship that Greene documented in two best-selling books. His novel All Summer Long was published by Doubleday in 1993, and his columns are collected in Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights (1997).
Greene was popular as a columnist but had many critics for what they perceived as excessive sentimentality, heavy writing and repetitive coverage of the same subject, most notably on the Baby Richard child custody saga. A therapist for the birth parents in the custody case, Karen Moriarty, claimed in the book Baby Richard: A Four-Year-Old Child Comes Home that Greene never spoke to the parents in spite of writing 100 columns on the subject.
Four months after Greene's ouster from the Chicago Tribune, his wife Susan died of heart failure after a month-long respiratory illness. He has not returned to newspaper or magazine journalism, though he continues to write books.
The Chicago Reader ran a derisive column called BobWatch: We Read Him So You Don't Have To, penned pseudonymously by Neil Steinberg. Greene's experiences as a roadie were parodied by comics writer Steve Gerber in the background of the villain Dr. Bong in the 1970s Marvel comic Howard the Duck.