Richard Douglas Heffner was born on August 5, 1925 in New York City. The son of a transportation executive, Heffner earned his BA and MA degrees at Columbia University. Following further graduate work at the University of California, Heffner joined the faculty at Rutgers University as a history instructor. He later worked as a professor at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. In 1953, Heffner put his teaching career on hold to become a freelance writer, producer and broadcaster. As an author, his works include A Documentary History of the United States, which contains documents, speeches and letters that have forged American history; and Democracy in America, published by Mentor Books in 1954. Heffner has also contributed numerous reviews and articles to various periodicals, including the New York Times and the Saturday Review. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, Heffner has been president of Richard Heffner Associates, Inc., a communications consulting firm, since 1964.