Walter Winchell

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Walter Winchell

Born

4/7/1897, New York, New York

Died

2/20/1972

Birth Name

Walter Winchel

Gender

Male
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Biography

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Acid tongued newspaper columnist and radio commentator who wrote the first gossip column while working for the New York Evening Graphic. By doing so he became one of the first journalists to expose the private lives of celebrities and other public figures thus altering the state of journalism forever.more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Winchell: It's a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.

    • Winchell: Nothing recedes like success.

    • Winchell: Gossip is the art of saying anything in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.

    • Winchell: Remember that nobody will ever get ahead of you as long as he is kicking you in the seat of the pants.

    • Winchell: Hollywood is a place where they place you under contract instead of under observation.

    • Winchell: I usually get my stuff from people who promised somebody else they would keep it a secret.

    • The lead characters in the 1932 film Okay, America and 1957's Sweet Smell of Success were based on Winchell.

    • Winchell is buried in Greenwood Memory Lawn in Phoenix.

    • Winchell was belatedly inducted posthumously into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2004. His granddaughter was present at the ceremony.

    • Winchell once appeared as the Mystery Guest on an episode of What's My Line? Because of his hugely familiar and distinctive voice he answered all questions put to him using a kazoo.

    • Winchell reportedly interfered repeatedly in his daughter Walda's marriage until it finally broke up.

    • Winchell's contracts with his newspapers and radio syndicators required them to indemnify him in case he was successfully sued for slander or libel.

    • Winchell's first cousin, Howard W. Koch, directed several episodes of the show he narrated--The Untouchables.

    • Winchell has been portrayed on the screen by the following actors in the following movies:

      Joseph Bologna-Citizen Cohn (1992)

      Michael Cavanaugh-Marilyn and Me (1991)

      Lloyd Gough-Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)

      Vaughn Meador-Lepke (1975)

      Craig T. Nelson-The Josephine Baker Story (1991)

      Michael Townsend Wright-The Rat Pack (1998)

      Mark Zimmerman-Dash and Lilly (1999)

    • Reportedly once slept with Marilyn Monroe but that has never been confirmed for certain.

    • In 1939, Winchell's radio broadcasts persuaded fugitive mobster Louis "Lepke" Buchalter to surrender to him. Winchell then turned Buchalter over to the FBI.

    • Winchell spoke in a distinctive, staccato style.

    • A fictionalized version of Winchell appears as a character in Phillip Roth's novel The Plot Against America.

    • Winchell appeared as himself in the movies A Face in the Crowd and The Helen Morgan Story.

    • Stanley Tucci played Winchell in the 1998 HBO biopic of the same name.

    • Winchell's obituary appeared on the front page of the New York Times.

    • According to show biz lore, Winchell's daughter, Walda, was the only person to attend his funeral.

    • Winchell's final two years were spent living at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

    • Winchell's son, Walter, Jr., committed suicide on December 24, 1968. He had been living on welfare for two years.

    • Winchell reprised his role as Untouchables narrator on an episode of The Lucy Show entitled Lucy, the Gun Moll. Untouchables actors Robert Stack, Bruce Gordon, and Steve London also appeared.

    • After leaving his wife Winchell moved in with a woman named June Magee who bore him three children. Though the two pretended to be married for the rest of their lives they never underwent an official marriage ceremony.

    • Winchell married Ruth Greene on August 11, 1919. They divorced in 1928. This was Winchell's only legal marriage.

    • Burt Lancaster's character in the 1957 movie Sweet Smell of Success was based on Winchell.

    • Winchell's favorite restaurant/nightclub was The Stork Club. He always sat at table 50 in the Club Room.

    • Winchell began his radio broadcasts with the words, "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea."

    • Winchell is credited for introducing the words "scram", "pushover", and "belly laughs" into the American vernacular.

    • He starred in his own short-lived series, The Walter Winchell Files, in 1957. The series only lasted for 13 episodes.

    • Winchell reportedly received $25,000.00 per eisode to narrate The Untouchables.

    • Winchell narrated The Untouchables TV series from 1959 to 1963.

    • He once accused Lucille Ball of being a Communist in his newspaper column. Note: it was true. She joined the party but only attended one meeting.

    • Winchell's politics became more conservative after World War II because he perceived Communism to be a great menace to American society whereas many liberals did not.

    • Winchell was one of the first commentators to speak out against the Fascist regimes of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

    • Winchell was a strong supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal economic program during the 1930's.

    • Winchell performed in vaudeville during his teens primarily as a dancer.

  • Quotes

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