Crist was born Judith Klein in The Bronx, borough of New York City, New York, the daughter of Helen (née Schoenberg), a librarian, and Solomon Klein, a manufacturing jeweler. She attended Morris High School in The Bronx, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College and a Master of Science degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
After graduating from Columbia in 1945, she was employed by The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter, film critic and arts editor for 22 years, and also worked as TV Guide’s resident film critic. After the Tribune ceased publication, she was named the first film critic at New York magazine. She was an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School of Journalism from 1958. Like Dwight Macdonald, Crist reviewed films for the Today show in the 1960s. She conducted the Judith Crist Film Weekends at Tarrytown House, in Tarrytown, New York, from 1971 to 2006. She was a longtime member of the Executive Committee of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Association and served three terms as President of the Alumni Association during the 1960s.
In 1963, she was awarded an Alumni Award by the Journalism School Alumni Association. On April 5, 2008, the school presented her with its Founder’s Award on her completion of 50 years as a faculty member. She taught until just before her death. She wrote the article “Tribute to a Partnership”, a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, in 1965, for a booklet that accompanied RCA Victor’s original LP release of the soundtrack album of The Sound of Music. However, the article has not been reprinted for any of the CD releases of the soundtrack. She cited Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush as her “first and to-this-day-most-vivid film experience.” Her husband, William B. Crist, died in 1993. Crist died at age 90 in her Manhattan home.
- May, 22, 1922
- The Bronx, New York, New York
- August, 07, 2012
- Manhattan, New York, New York