Fulford was born in Ottawa, Ontario to Frances (Blount) Fulford and A. E. Fulford, a journalist and editor at Canadian Press. He grew up in The Beaches neighbourhood in Toronto and was a childhood friend of Glenn Gould. He is married to writer and producer Geraldine Sherman, with whom he has two daughters. His daughter Sarah is the editor-in-chief of Toronto Life magazine.
Fulford's media career began at the age of 16, while still in high school, when he worked for Toronto radio station CHUM reporting on high school sports and producing a weekly radio show for teenagers.
In the summer of 1950, Fulford left high school and went to work for The Globe and Mail as a sports reporter. Subsequently, Fulford rose to various editorial positions at the newspaper before moving to The Toronto Star as a columnist (1959–1962, 1964–1968 and 1971–1987). From 1963 to 1964 he was a columnist and editor of the Reviews section at Maclean's magazine before returning to the Star. He covered Expo 67 for the newspaper and wrote a book on the world's fair, This Was Expo.
From 1968 until 1987, Fulford was the editor of Saturday Night magazine and also wrote both a general column for the magazine under his own name, and film reviews under the pseudonym "Marshall Delaney". He then worked as a columnist for the Financial Times of Canada (1988–1992), The Globe and Mail (1992–1999) and the National Post (1999–2019)
Fulford worked as the co-host with Richard Gwyn of Realities, a long-form interview show on TVOntario (1982–1989) and as a regular panelist on CBC Radio's Morningside (1989–1993). In 1999, he delivered the Massey Lecture. In 1984, Fulford was awarded the honour of Officer of the Order of Canada.
Fulford is also a critic of literature, art and films. He has written extensively about the Canadian abstract art group Painters Eleven, its members (particularly William Ronald, Tom Hodgson, and Harold Town), and the Saskatchewan abstract artist Mashel Teitelbaum.
- This Was Expo - 1968
- Crisis at the Victory Burlesk: Culture, Politics and Other Diversions - 1968
- Harold Town Drawings - 1968 (editor)
- Marshall Delaney at the Movies - 1974
- An Introduction to the Arts in Canada - 1977
- Canada: A Celebration - 1983
- Best Seat in the House: Memoirs of a Lucky Man - 1988
- Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto - 1995
- Toronto Discovered - 1998
- The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture - 1999
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