Gus Weill

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Gus Weill, Sr.

Born March 12, 1933
Lafayette, Louisiana
Political Party Democrat
Spouse (1) Ann Cherry Weill

(2) Leanne Svigel Weill

Religion Judaism

Gus Weill, Sr. (born March 12, 1933),[1] is an American author and public relations specialist originally from Lafayette, Louisiana.


Weill graduated in 1955 from Louisiana State University in the state capital of Baton Rouge. He then completed the United States Army Counter Intelligence School as a special agent. He was first lieutenant of the Counter Intelligence Corps in Frankfurt, Germany. He was discharged from the military in 1957.[2]

In 1958, Weill he established the first advertising/public relations firm in Baton Rouge. In 1963, he was introduced to Louisiana Public Service Commissioner John J. McKeithen by Judge Edmund Reggie and soon took over the management of McKeithen's successful gubernatorial campaign. From 1964 to 1968, he served as executive secretary to McKeithen in the latter's first term as governor. Considered the "father of modern political public relations in Louisiana," Weill also handled campaigns for three other Louisiana governors, McKeithen's predecessor and successor, Jimmie Davis and Edwin Edwards, and Edwards' successor and second predecessor, David C. Treen. He trained the Democratic strategist James Carville, a mastermind of the election in 1992 of Bill Clinton as U.S. president.[3]

Weill also groomed other public relations specialists, who became his competitors, such as Raymond Strother, manager of the Gary Hart presidential campaign, and Roy Fletcher, affiliated with Patrick J. Buchanan.[2] In all, Weill managed some 350 campaigns. He was involved in the political promotion of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.[4] Weill also convinced McKeithen to implement the state agency CODOFIL, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, an idea originally proposed by U.S. Representative James Domengeaux.[2]


A writer of novels, plays, and poetry, Weill spent two years working for the producer Otto Preminger. For nineteen years, Weill hosted the program Louisiana Legends on his state's Public Broadcasting Service network.[3] Weill's novel, The Cajuns (2004) is particularly known for its treatment of Cajun culture and the unique characters of the fictitious Richelieu Parish in the year 1956, with political corruption and petty theft running rampant. One of the characters bears the name "Patoot Gaspard," a veteran member of the Louisiana State Senate. Gaspard's son-in-law, a "Bobby Boudreaux", is the parish sheriff. The local priest, "Father Justin," is Gaspard's son. Though not himself Cajun, Weill developed a knowledge of that culture through his rearing in Lafayette.[5]

The Cajuns was actually inspired by a suggestion from James Carville: "Gus was always telling stories, from the first day I met him. There aren't many people who can tell you the same story, like, eleven times and still make you want to hear it again. He's the best raconteur I've ever met."[6]

Here is a selected list of Weill's works:

  • The Bonnet Man[7]
  • Flesh with Dana Isaacson[8]
  • Fuhrer Seed[9]
  • Love and Other Guilts: The Poetry of Gus Weill[10]
  • Parradiddle: A Novel[11]
  • To Bury a Cousin[12]
  • A Woman's Eyes[13]
  • You Are My Sunshine: The Jimmie Davis Story, An Affectionate Biography [14]
  • The Weill Side of Louisiana Politics: Gus Weill Remembers [15]

Personal life

Weill and his first wife, the former Ann Cherry, had a son, Gus Weill, Jr. (c. 1962–2004), an attorney and public relations specialist in New York City, who suffered from depression and committed suicide at the age of forty-two.[16][17]

Weill has resided in New York City since December 2002. He has a grandson, Gus Weill, III. Weill is Jewish.[6][16] His second wife is the former Leanne Svigel (March 14, 1953).[18]


In 1983, Weill was named to the Douglas L. Manship Hall of Fame in the LSU School of Mass Communications.[19] In 1994, he was named a "Louisiana Legend" by the PBS program that he hosted for many years.[2] In 1996, Weill was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame, located in Winnfield, Louisiana.[20]

Erik Spanberg describes Weill, accordingly:

All his life, Gus Weill has been distracted by a restless mind incapable of sticking to one subject for long. That peripatetic nature led to turns as a political consultant, an advertising executive, a gubernatorial adviser, television and radio host, poet, biographer, and now, at last, full-time novelist.[6]


  1. Gus Weill. Retrieved on September 13, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Living Legends: Gus Weill. Retrieved on August 20, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 About Gus Weill. Retrieved on August 21, 2012.
  4. Oral Histories: Gus Weill. Retrieved on August 21, 2012.
  5. The Cajuns by Gus Weill. Retrieved on August 22, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Erik Spanberg, "Down on the Bayou". Retrieved on August 20, 2012.
  7. The Bonnet Man, Macmillan, ISBN 0026255405 (0-02-625540-5)
  8. Flesh, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0671704346 (0-671-70434-6)
  9. Fuhrer Seed, Hodder General Publishing Division, ISBN 0450050181 (0-450-05018-1)
  10. Love and Other Guilts: The Poetry of Gus Weill, Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishers, ISBN 0875117422 (0-87511-742-2)
  11. Paradiddle: A Novel, Citadel Press, ISBN 0806504021 (0-8065-0402-1)
  12. To Bury a Cousin, Dramatist's Play Service, ISBN 0822211572 (0-8222-1157-2)
  13. A Woman's Eyes, Random House, ISBN 0345247744 (0-345-24774-4)
  14. Baton Rouge: Pelican Publishing Company, 1977, a biography with the title based on Davis' song "You Are My Sunshine", ISBN 0882896601 (0-88289-660-1)
  15. Shop Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Retrieved on August 22, 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Richard Edelman, Friends of Gus Weill. Retrieved on August 20, 2012.
  17. Friends of Gus Weill. Retrieved on August 21, 2012.
  18. Leanne Weill. Retrieved on September 13, 2017.
  19. Manship Hall of Fame. Retrieved on August 20, 2012.
  20. Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. Retrieved on August 22, 2012.