Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972

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American journalist, newspaper columnist, and radio commentator.

From the description of Walter Winchell miscellaneous papers, 1936-1968. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 123429617

Walter Winchell was an American journalist and radio personality, remembered as the inventor of the celebrity gossip column. Born Walter Winschel in Harlem, New York, he left school in the sixth grade and worked odd jobs in the neighborhood and on local vaudeville stages. After serving in the navy in World War I, he became a journalist by selling short show business related articles to New York periodicals. Soon, his gossip column, commenting on public figures from entertainment to politics, was widely read and hugely influential. During the 1930s he became a radio commentator, and his trademark direct style and breakneck, insistent delivery made him a celebrity in his own right. His reputation and influence waned in the 1950s, partly due to his support of McCarthyism, although he remained familiar to a new generation as the narrator of the television show, The Untouchables. His influence in creating and feeding the American appetite for celebrity gossip is incalculable.

From the description of Walter Winchell letters to Mr. Klopp, 1932-1933. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 173022822

Walter Winchell was born on April 7, 1897 in New York City. In 1910, Winchell launched a career in vaudeville and spent several years as part of the Newsboys Sextet. In 1915, Winchell teamed with Rita Greene in a song and dance act and they toured until he enlisted in the Navy in 1917. Winchell officially started his journalism career in 1922, working for the Vaudeville News. In 1924, he went to work for the Evening Graphic, as dramatic critic and was given a Broadway column. By 1929, he was with the New York Daily Mirror, where he contributed a gossip column to until 1963. He made his radio debut in 1930 on CBS's Saks on Broadway, a 15-minute program devoted to show business news. In 1932, he began hosting The Jergens Journal, a show that mixed entertainment news with matters of national importance. He gained fame as an American journalist and was the subject of frequent analysis, comment, and controversy. Despite this, his entertainment news reports and his weekly radio program brought Winchell a huge audience and great influence from the 1930s to the 1950s. He was frequently censored for expressing his hatred of the Nazi Party in Germany and unfavorable remarks of certain Congressmen. After World War II, he was concerned with the spread of Communism and supported Senator Joseph McCarthy and the "Red Scare" investigations. Winchell also hosted The Walter Winchell Show (ABC, 1952-1960), The Walter Winchell Show (NBC, 1956), and The Walter Winchell File (1957-1958), which featured crime stories that Winchell had covered while working with the New York City Police Department. He was also the unseen narrator of the television drama series The Untouchables. Winchell died in Los Angeles, Calif. on February 20, 1972.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1920-ca. 1960. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 765533775

Noted American newspaper and radio commentator; invented the gossip column at the New York Evening Graphic; worked for the new York Mirror for 34 years; narrated "The untouchables" television program.

From the description of Walter Winchell letter, 1941 November 27. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 76968841

Walter Winchell (1897-1972) gained acclaim as a journalist and gossip columnist with a career spanning five decades.

He contributed a column to the New York Daily Mirror for over 30 years, as well as hosting radio and television broadcasts (ABC, CBS, and NBC). Winchell's early career was marked by his public criticism of pro-fascists in America and strong condemnation of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. He also expressed support for the Democratic Party and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mixed with political opinion and commentary was Winchell's trademark entertainment news and "gossip," where he gained a reputation as being frank and fiery.

After World War II, Winchell became increasingly concerned with the spread of Communism and voiced support for Senator Joseph McCarthy and the "Red Scare" investigations.

With the passing of the McCarthy era Winchell slowly faded from the public eye.

From the description of Winchell, Walter papers 1928-1993 1930s-1960s (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 465234712

Walter Winchell (1897-1972) was a radio broadcaster, stage and film performer, and journalist for the New York Daily Mirror and other publications.

Born to a poor Jewish family on the upper East Side of New York, Walter Winchell began as a song-plugger and performer in vaudeville. In 1920 he began contributing to The Vaudeville News, a trade publication, and this lead to a job writing a daily column of news, gossip, and opinion, first for the New York Evening Graphic starting in 1924, then, five years later, for the New York Daily Mirror, where the column would remain a fixture for over three decades. Walter Winchell's radio career began in 1930. His weekly broadcasts, which would greatly enhance his power and influence, would remain popular into the 1950s, although a move into the new medium of television was unsuccessful. Winchell also wrote and performed in a number of Hollywood films during his heyday, and narrated the TV series THE UNTOUCHABLES.

From the description of Walter Winchell papers, 1920-1967. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144652275

Biographical/Historical Note

American journalist, newspaper columnist, and radio commentator.

From the guide to the Walter Winchell miscellaneous papers, 1936-1968, (Hoover Institution Archives)

Walter Winchell was born, on April 7, 1897, into a poor Jewish family on the upper East Side of New York City. Between 1909 and 1920, he worked as a song-plugger and performer in vaudeville - one of his early co-performers was George Jessel. In 1920, Winchell began writing a column for The Vaudeville News ; in 1924, he entered the world of tabloid newspapers as a daily columnist for the New York Evening Graphic . On June 10, 1929, he wrote his first daily column for the New York Daily Mirror - a Hearst publication that was syndicated in approximately 1000 newspapers by King Features .

By the end of the 1920's, Walter Winchell was nationally famous. The inventor of the modern gossip column, Winchell intermingled wordplay, obscure facts, philosophical observations, and tidbits about business, finance and the underworld with his core material of intimate news about celebrities. As a master of the "slanguage" spoken by journalists, Broadway showpeople, bootleggers and gamblers, "W.W." fashioned a brisk, brash, racy vernacular style in which each column item was separated by a three-dot punctuation. His flair for inventing or popularizing catchy new words and phrases was one secret of his great reader appeal: married couples were "Lohengrinned" or "sealed," divorced couples were "Reno-vated" or "telling it to a judge," people in love were "Cupiding" or "making whoopie," and the birth of a baby was a "blessed event."

Winchell's radio career began in 1930. In 1932, he introduced a weekly radio program (sponsored by Jergen's Lotion ) in which he successfully translated his dynamic newspaper style into a new medium: he spoke with a machine-gun-burst delivery accompanied by the sound of a telegraph key, and the words which he finally settled on for the opening of each broadcast - "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North America, and all the ships at sea" - became world-famous. In the 1930's and 1940's, in his dual role as "the Voice of America" and the author of "The Column," Walter Winchell was arguably the most popular and most influential newsman in the world - the "king of media," who reigned from Table 50 at the Stork Club.

The peak of his influence was during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired. With Ernest Cuneo as his private pipeline to the FDR administration, Winchell viewed himself as a populist who championed the underdog; he also was one of the earliest revilers of Adolf Hitler, whom he loathed for his anti-Semitism. Concurrently with his liberal-Democratic connections, Winchell had ties to the underworld and was a close confidante of J. Edgar Hoover. He wrote the screenplay, acted in, or did voiceover for several Hollywood movies and shorts, including Broadway Thru a Keyhole,, Wake Up and Live, and Love and Hisses . He was an indefatigable reporter at the Bruno Hauptmann trial in 1935, and he participated in the capture of the elusive arch-criminal Louis Buchalter in 1939.

Winchell was courted constantly by press agents and publicity-hungry celebrities. If he believed they insulted him or gave him false information ("wrongos"), they would wind up on his dreaded DDL (Drop Dead List). Winchell was also capable of vitriolic feuds with editors, publishers, fellow columnists, et al.: James A. Wechsler, Dorothy Schiff, Westbrook Pegler, Drew Pearson, Leonard Lyons, Ed Sullivan, and the Shubert brothers were among his more notable antagonists.

1951 was a watershed year in Winchell's career - the first major year in a gradual but irreversible process of decline in his power and popularity. Winchell's unpopular point of view was a catalyst in his loss of popularity. His interview with the underworld figure Frank Costello was widely ridiculed. His ardent backing of General MacArthur after MacArthur was fired by Truman alienated Winchell from many of his left-wing admirers. The Josephine Baker affair at the Stork Club made Winchell look like a self-serving hypocrite, if not racist; and his weekly radio show fell out of the top ten for the first time.

Winchell's embrace of the anti-Communist movement - in particular, his close ties to Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn - sealed his doom with the left-wing. His attempt to make the transition from radio to television in the mid-fifties was ill-fated: his rapid-fire, staccato way of speaking and his bouncing, fidgety physical presence did not work well on this "cool" medium. His only real success on TV was as the unseen narrator of the series "The Untouchables" from 1959 to 1963. 1963 was also the year in which the New York Daily Mirror went bankrupt - a crushing blow to its most famous columnist.

In chronic bad health and strained by many tragedies in his family life (including divorces and suicides), Winchell managed for several years to continue writing for other newspapers, and he did end up reconciling with several of his enemies. On February 20, 1972, Walter Winchell died of cancer at the UCLA Medical Center.

From the guide to the Walter Winchell papers, 1920-1967, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Johnson, Louis Arthur, 1891-1966. Papers of Louis Arthur Johnson [manuscript] 1930-64. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Order Sons of Italy in America. News Office. Records, 1946-1987. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Gerald L. K. Smith Papers, 1922-1976 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Swanson, Gloria. Papers. Series I. Correspondence, 1907-1983. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Correspondence file, 1927-1929, from Boni & Liveright and Horace Liveright, Inc. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Reid, Ogden R. (Ogden Rogers), 1925-. Ogden Rogers Reid papers, 1925-1982 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn New York Times Company records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers, 1823-1999 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Robert E. Sherwood papers, 1917-1968 (inclusive), 1934-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Max Lerner papers, 1927-1998 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Lerner, Eugene,. Eugene Lerner collection of Josephine Baker materials, 1926-2001. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn National Broadcasting Company history files, 1922-1986 Recorded Sound Reference Center, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945. Papers of Theodore Dreiser, 1917-1946. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Seydell, Mildred, 1889-1988. Mildred Seydell papers, 1842-1978. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971. Louis Armstrong letter to Walter Winchell, 1942 May 31. Library of Congress
referencedIn Papers of Drew Pearson. 1915 - 1969. Files from the Merry-Go-Round Farm
referencedIn Gorrasi, Joseph, 1909-1981. Joseph Gorrasi Order Sons of Italy in America Collection, 1926-1973. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Robert Lee Sherrod Papers, 1910-1963 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Quillen, Robert, 1887-1948. Robert Quillen papers, 1904-1985; (bulk, 1906-1949) University of South Carolina, University Libraries
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Walter Winchell papers, 1920-1967. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn President's Secretary's Files (Truman Administration). 1945 - 1960. Diaries Files. 1947 - 1953. 1949. 1947 - 1953. Diary Entry of President Harry S. Truman
referencedIn Hoctor, Harriet. Harriet Hoctor collection, 1917-1972 (bulk 1923-1937). Library of Congress
referencedIn Roosevelt family. Papers donated by the children of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, [ca. 1686]-1959. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Walter Winchell papers, 1920-1967 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Frank Farrell Papers, 1897-1988, (bulk 1945-1975) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Lerner, Eugene, collector. The Josephine Baker collection, 1926-2001 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Walter Winchell letters to Mr. Klopp, 1932-1933. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Reid, Ogden R. (Ogden Rogers), 1925-. Ogden Rogers Reid papers, 1925-1982 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Walter Winchell miscellaneous papers, 1936-1968. Stanford University, Hoover Institution Library
creatorOf Kinnaird, Clark, 1901-1983. Papers, 1858-1977 (bulk 1919-1977). University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
referencedIn Johnny Green additional papers, 1923-1989. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Winchell, Walter 1897-1972. Winchell, Walter papers 1928-1993 1930s-1960s University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Bishop, Jim, 1907-1987. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1930-1933. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Earl Browder Papers, 1879-1990 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
creatorOf Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961. Papers: 1873-1993 (inclusive), 1899-1961 (bulk). John F Kennedy Presidential Library
referencedIn Ogden Rogers Reid papers, 1925-1982 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Edson, C. L. (Charles Leroy), b. 1881. Charles Leroy Edson collection [microform] : [papers], [not before 1913]-1951. Kansas State Historical Society
referencedIn Joseph Gorrasi Order Sons of Italy in America Collection, 1926-1973 University of Minnesota Libraries. Immigration History Research Center [ihrc]
creatorOf Childs, Marquis W. (Marquis William), 1903-1990. Letter to Walter Winchell. Washington, DC. 1942 Dec. 11. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Welles mss., 1930-1950, (Bulk 1936-1947) Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Papers, ca. 1920-ca. 1960. University of California, Los Angeles
referencedIn Weinberger, Harry, 1888-. Harry Weinberger papers, 1915-1944 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Andrews, Robert Hardy, 1908-1999. Robert Hardy Andrews collection, 1925-1985. Boston University, School of Medical
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Correspondence with Theodore and Helen Dreiser, 1933-1946. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Gypsy Rose Lee papers, 1910-1970 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Farrell, Frank, 1912-1983. Papers of Frank Farrell, 1897-1988 (bulk 1945-1975). Library of Congress
referencedIn Quillen, Robert, 1887-1948. Papers, 1906-1976; (bulk 1906-1949). South Carolina Newspaper Project
referencedIn Herbert Brownell Jr. Additional Papers. 1897 - 1996. Photographs
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Walter Winchell letter, 1941 November 27. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Theoharis, Athan G.,. FBI Investigation and Surveillance Records, 1919-[ongoning]. Marquette University Raynor Memorial Library, John P. Raynor Library
referencedIn Harriet Hoctor Collection, 1917-1972, (bulk 1923-1937) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Frank Murphy papers, 1908-1949 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn National Broadcasting Company. National Broadcasting Company history files, 1922-1986. Library of Congress
creatorOf Michael, Moina Belle, 1869-1944. Moina Belle Michael Correspondence, 1914-1964 (bulk 1918-1944). Georgia Department of Archives and History Library
referencedIn Papers of Drew Pearson. 1915 - 1969. Files from the Georgetown Office and Residence
creatorOf Walter Winchell miscellaneous papers, 1936-1968 Hoover Institution Archives.
creatorOf Edson, C. L. (Charles Leroy), b. 1881. Charles Leroy Edson papers, [not before 1913]-1951. Kansas State Historical Society
referencedIn Neumann, Fred. Papers, 1943-1964, 1944-1945 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972. Walter Winchell correspondence regarding Rube Goldberg, 1959. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Lerner, Max, 1902-2001. Max Lerner papers, 1927-1992 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Lyndon Baines Johnson Archives Collection. 1931 - 1968. Subject Correspondence Files
referencedIn Lyle Stuart Papers, 1926-2010, [Bulk Dates: 1949-2003] Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Lerner, Eugene, collector. The Josephine Baker collection, 1926-2001 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Walter Winchell Papers 2006-070., 1928-1993 (bulk 1930s-1960s) Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf Michael, Moina Belle, 1869-1944. Moina Belle Michael Correspondence, 1914-1964 (bulk 1918-1944). Georgia Department of Archives and History Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith America First Party. corporateBody
associatedWith America First Party. corporateBody
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith American Razor Company corporateBody
correspondedWith Andrews, Robert Hardy, 1908-1999. person
correspondedWith Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971. person
associatedWith Baker, Josephine, 1906-1975. person
associatedWith Billy Rose person
associatedWith Brice, Fanny person
associatedWith Brice, Fanny. person
associatedWith Browder, Earl, 1891-1973 person
associatedWith Childs, Marquis W. (Marquis William), 1903-1990. person
associatedWith Christian Nationalist Crusade. corporateBody
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945. person
associatedWith Edson, C. L. (Charles Leroy), b. 1881. person
correspondedWith Farrell, Frank, 1912-1983. person
correspondedWith Goldberg, Rube, 1883-1970 person
associatedWith Goldwyn, Samuel, 1879-1974. person
associatedWith Gorrasi, Joseph, 1909-1981. person
correspondedWith Green, Johnny, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Gruen Watch Company corporateBody
associatedWith Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961. person
correspondedWith Hoctor, Harriet. person
associatedWith Jergen's Lotion corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, Louis Arthur, 1891-1966. person
associatedWith Kinnaird, Clark, 1901-1983. person
associatedWith Lee, Gypsy Rose, 1914-1970 person
associatedWith Lerner, Eugene, person
associatedWith Lerner, Eugene, collector. person
associatedWith Lerner, Max, 1902- person
associatedWith Lerner, Max, 1902-2001. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Michael, Moina Belle, 1869-1944. person
associatedWith Murphy, Frank, 1890-1949 person
associatedWith National Broadcasting Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Neumann, Fred. person
correspondedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith New York Times Company corporateBody
associatedWith Order Sons of Italy in America. News Office. corporateBody
correspondedWith Quillen, Robert, 1887-1948. person
associatedWith Reid, Ogden R. (Ogden Rogers), 1925- person
associatedWith Roosevelt family. family
associatedWith Rose, Billy, 1899-1966. person
associatedWith Samuel Goldwyn person
associatedWith Seydell, Mildred, 1889-1988. person
associatedWith Sherrod, Robert Lee, 1909- person
correspondedWith Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955 person
associatedWith Smith, Gerald L. K. (Gerald Lyman Kenneth), 1898- person
associatedWith Smith, Gerald L. K. (Gerald Lyman Kenneth), 1898-1976. person
associatedWith Stuart, Lyle person
associatedWith Swanson, Gloria. person
associatedWith Theoharis, Athan G., person
associatedWith Walter Winchell person
associatedWith Weinberger, Harry, 1888- person
associatedWith Welles, Orson, 1915-1985 person
associatedWith White, Harriet Lancashire. person
correspondedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
United States
United States
New York (State)--New York
United States
Subject
Motion picture industry--United States
Radio broadcasters
Christianity and politics
Anti-communist movements United States
Gossip columnists
Journalists--Correspondence
Anti-communist movements--United States
Journalists--Archival resources
Antisemitism--United States
Theater
Journalism
World War, 1939-1945
Antisemitism
Racism
Anti-communist movements
Motion picture industry
Journalists
Cartoonists
Theater--New York (State)--New York
Radio broadcasters--United States
World War, 1939-1945--United States
Racism--United States
Occupation
Journalists
Function

Person

Birth 1897-04-07

Death 1972-02-20

English

Information

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