Sam Greenlee, late author of “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” dead at 83

South Side author Sam Greenlee died May 19, 2014 at the age of 83.

Born in Chicago in 1930, Greenlee grew up in Woodlawn. He attended Englewood High School, and then the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the University of Chicago. Following a stint at the U.S. Information Agency, he published his most famous novel, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” in 1969 – a tale of a CIA agent turned leader of a Chicago-based Black nationalist revolution. Greenlee also wrote the screenplay for a film based on the book, released in 1973.

A recipient of the Illinois Poet Laureate Award, Greenlee was also the author of poems and plays, an instructor at Columbia College and a WVON radio talk show host. During his lifetime, he lived abroad in Spain, Greece and Africa.

Greenlee was a regular visitor to Hyde Park cultural and social institutions and retained a loyal following in the neighborhood.

A memorial for Sam Greenlee will take place at 6:30 p.m. on June 6 at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. The event is being coordinated by Director of Education and Public Programming Pemon Rami, who said that the late author had requested he organize his memorial.

For more information and updates, call the DuSable Museum at 773-947-0600 or visit