Ken Harrison 8:30 a.m., July 31
Society Writer Burl Stiff Dead at 83
An era has passed. Burl Stiff, longtime society writer for the Union-Tribune, died this morning (May 20) at White Sands of La Jolla Retirement Community, where he had been in frail health for some time. He would have been 84 in August.
At the Union-Tribune, Stiff worked directly for David Copley as an independent contractor and frequently covered David and Helen Copley's parties. Stiff was said to have made $1000 a column and wrote three columns a week. This riled many staffers who didn't make anywhere near that much.
When Platinum Equity bought the paper for an extremely low price, it let Stiff go, according to a reliable source, but would occasionally hire him for a freelance job for a rumored $150 a column. According to informed rumor, David Copley went to see Stiff recently but is now on his $33 million yacht on a European trip.
Stiff primarily covered the La Jolla/Rancho Santa Fe set. He is said to have resisted editors' attempts to cover society in other parts of the county, although he did do some of it.