The Fort Worth native began in sports journalism. Along with Dan Jenkins (they went to Paschal High School together), he eventually shaped American sports magazine writing with colorful yarns for Sports Illustrated — after having worked for the Dallas Times Herald and then the Dallas Morning News.
Edwin Shrake, Jr, returned to Texas in 1969 and continued to work for Sports Illustrated until 1979. But he also got into writing novels and screenplays, befriending literary, Hollywood and sports celebs, including Willie Nelson and George Plimpton . Critic and scholar Don Graham considers Strange Peaches, Shrake’s oddball comedy from 1972 of Dallas life in the early ’60s, something of a neglected classic of Lone Star literature.
Shrake’s best film work came in the early ’80s with Songwriter, basically an easy-going Willie Nelson road picture directed by Alan Rudolph, and Tom Horn, Steve McQueen’s last Western, which Shrake co-wrote with novelist Thomas McGuane.
But Shrake’s most unexpected commercial success came from his sideline of ‘as-told-to’ biographies. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf compiled the golf pro’s homespun wisdom and remained a national bestseller for weeks after its release in 1992, ultimately becoming the bestselling sports book ever.
Shrake died in Austin, where he’d been living for years. The cause was cancer. He was 77.