Dan Cook, the longtime San Antonio Express News sportswriter who made the phrase "The opera ain't over till the fat lady sings" famous, has passed away at the age of 81.
The San Antonio Express-News, for whom Cook worked for 51 years, reported that he died Thursday night after a long illness. Cook was also the sports anchor at San Antonio television station KENS for 44 years, from 1956 to 2000. Most of those years, the station was owned by the Express-News.
It was Cook who first popularized the phrase, "the Opera ain't over till the fat lady sings," while discussing an NBA playoff series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Bullets on a 1978 newscast. The Yale Book of Quotations later concluded it was first quoted in print in 1976, attributed to Texas Tech sports information director Ralph Carpenter, and was a variation on an old Southern saying.
In few American cities did one person dominate sports media as did Cook in San Antonio.
Cook worked for the Express-News from 1952 through his retirement in 2003. Between his newspaper and television duties, Cook wrote six columns a week and delivered two sports telecasts and two radio commentaries each day. That's on top of his duties as Express-News executive sports editor, which he was from 1960 to 1975.
Barry Robinson, former Express-News sports editor and now its director of administration and recruitment, was hired by Cook in 1969. He recalled that Cook once turned down an offer to move to Chicago and become a syndicated columnist to remain in San Antonio.