Dan Thomas B. Jenkins was born December 2, 1929, in Fort Worth, Texas. His father was a salesman, and his mother was a local antique merchant.
Jenkins attended Paschal High School, where he wrote for the school newspaper, the Pantherette. Bud Shrake, another well-known writer and one of Jenkins' best friends, attended Paschal with Jenkins.
Jenkins later enrolled at Texas Christian University, where he majored in English. While a student at TCU, Jenkins was hired by Fort Worth's most prominent sports writer at that time, Blackie Sherod. Sherod offered Jenkins a sports-writing job in 1948 with the Fort Worth Press, the city's daily newspaper.
Jenkins graduated from TCU with an English degree in 1953. He left the Press in 1960 when he obtained a position with the Dallas Times Herald, where he remained until 1962.
In 1962, Jenkins attended an audition for America's premiere sports magazine, Sports Illustrated. Jenkins was hired and quickly attracted readers' attentions with his fiery Texan writing style, mixing humor with candid blue-collar language. During his 22-year tenure with the sports magazine giant, he was able to become senior writer, and editor. He earned his most notable recognition from his stories about college football and golf, though he did write about most other sports, including professional football, the platform for his first novel.
In October of 1972, he published Semi-Tough, a novel that documented the life of fictional New York Giants football star Billy Clyde Puckett. Semi-Tough is Puckett's first-person account of the events leading up to the biggest day of his life: the Super Bowl. Jenkins filled the book with heaps profanity, vulgarity, sex, and social commentary on racism.
The timing of the book's publishing was excellent, as the war in Vietnam, communism, and the baby-boomer generation reached pinnacles in the early 70's. The book immediately climbed the bestseller list's, becoming the tenth-best-selling novel of 1972, after only 2 ½ months on the market. The book reached as high as number two on Publisher Weekly's list. Book sales were phenomenal, and the book made Jenkins a millionaire.
While Semi-Tough and its biting taste of Texan culture and life in the National Football League were being eaten up by book-buyers everywhere, Jenkins continued to write for Sports Illustrated. He had married fellow TCU alum June Burrage, a 1951 graduate, not long before the publication of Semi-Tough. He also had three infant children: twins Sally and Marty, and Danny, born a year after the twins.
Sally later followed her father into sports journalism, eventually landing a job with Sports Illustrated covering professional football. All three children chose media-related jobs after graduating their respective colleges.
In 1977, United Artists turned Semi-Tough into a motion picture, and although Jenkins conceded to its production and appreciated certain aspects, he wasn't wholly satisfied with the multitude of differences between the movie and his book.
In 1984, following heated differences with his managing editor, Jenkins left Sports Illustrated. He went on to write monthly columns for Playboy, and continued to contribute golf writings to a number of magazines, including Golf Digest, which he still wrote for in 1999. He wrote six novels after Semi-Tough and followed his most famous novel with two sequels: Life Its Own Self (1984) and Rude Behavior (1998).
Jenkins continues to live with his wife June in Ponte Vedra, Florida, though at 71 in 2000, he still commutes often to his hometown, Fort Worth, Texas.
, Gale Literary Database,
Virgo Other Databases, www.galenet.com.|
King, Larry. "Dan Jenkins." Publisher's Weekly.
Oct 23, 1972; 14-15.|
Mulvoy, Mark. "To Our Readers." Sports Illustrated.
Apr 18, 1994; 4.|
Feb 15, 1982.