By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 4, 2006; C01
Louis Rukeyser was to investing what Julia Child was to French cooking — a populist who sought to demystify a subject of seemingly bewildering complexity.
Before Rukeyser, you learned about Wall Street in business school, or by visiting starchy men called stockbrokers, who worked for downtown firms with five names because four just didn’t sound intimidating enough.
Rukeyser, who died Tuesday at 73, was for 32 years the winking, crinkly-haired host of “Wall $treet Week,” a Friday-night staple on more than 300 PBS stations. Before CNBC, before the Internet, before the over-amped exhortations of Suze Orman and Jim Cramer, the wry Rukeyser was the most important source of financial advice on the air. That is no small mantle; the rise of the mom-and-pop investor class in the latter half of the 20th century was easily one of the most transformative economic movements in American history.
His program’s format was comfortable and familiar, like a big easy chair at the end of a tiring workweek. (Rukeyser often sat in a big leather chair while hosting.) Its two main elements were Rukeyser’s disarming little soliloquies about the week’s economic and business news, followed by a panel discussion featuring Rukeyser’s “elves,” a group of professional money managers who offered picks and predictions. There were no technical analyses, no yield curves, no biz-page arcana.
Many was the Friday night in the 80s I spent with Ba, watching this program…