Marilyn Hagerty wins journalism award, plans to review another Olive Garden soon

Marilyn Hagerty won the Al Neuharth award last week and is best known for her Olive Garden review.
Marilyn Hagerty won the Al Neuharth award last week and is best known for her Olive Garden review.

Marilyn Hagerty, the Grand Forks Herald restaurant reviewer whose writeup of a local Olive Garden went viral last spring, won the prestigious Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media for lifetime achievement last week.

"It was just overwhelming because other winners of the award were Walter Cronkite and Katie Couric," Hagerty told us from her home. "I think of myself as an average newspaperwoman. I've been writing for newspapers for 65 years."

Al Neuharth himself presented the award to Hagerty, 86, during a ceremony at the University of South Dakota. Hagerty was Neuharth's classmate back in the 1940s, and she was his first editor on the student newspaper.

See also:
Grand Forks Olive Garden reviewer, internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty to receive major journalism award
Olive Garden Review: the greatest restaurant review ever written

Hagerty was accompanied by her son, James R. ("Bob") Hagerty, who works for the Wall Street Journal, as well as her granddaughter, who is studying communications at the University of North Dakota.

"We had three generations of journalists there," Hagerty said. "It was just, like, a mountain top experience."

Hagerty is still reeling a bit from the popularity of her Olive Garden review. At first the message she got was that people thought her column was pathetic, she says, but then people began to defend it.

"Olive Garden isn't my favorite restaurant," she said. "I go out to eat at a lot of places around here."

Now that the excitement appears to finally be dying down, Hagerty said she will continue to do her work for the Grand Forks Herald, play bridge, and spend time with her dachsund, aptly named

Hagerty will, however, be enjoying warm breadsticks and bottomless salad again quite soon.

"Anderson Cooper asked me to come down and review another Olive Garden for him," Hagerty said. "That's coming up."

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