Ralph Schoenstein, 73; Ghostwrote Bill Cosby Book ‘Fatherhood’

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Ralph Schoenstein, 73, a humorist who ghostwrote Bill Cosby’s best-selling book “Fatherhood” and had a regular radio commentary on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” died Thursday in Philadelphia of complications from heart surgery.

Born in New York City, Schoenstein graduated from Columbia University and served in the Army. Over the years, his articles appeared in Playboy magazine, the New York Times and the Saturday Evening Post. His first book, “The Block” (1960), was a portrait of his youth growing up on New York’s Upper West Side. His “I Hate Preppies Handbook” became a bestseller in 1981.

His most widely read book was “Fatherhood,” his ghostwritten effort for Cosby in 1987. Schoenstein wrote three other books for Cosby including the “Fatherhood” follow-up, “Time Flies” (1988).

He also ghostwrote Joan Rivers’ “Bouncing Back: I’ve Survived Everything ... And I Mean Everything ... And You Can Too!” (1997) and Ed McMahon’s “Here’s Johnny!” (2005).


Schoenstein joined NPR in the mid-1990s. His commentaries explored such topics as aging, the state of New Jersey and cigarette smoke.