Walter Winchell was the grand daddy of gossip columnists whose insatiable hunger for celebrity sleaze propelled him to the top of the editorial food chain of 1930's tabloid journalism. His Harlem upbringing was more street wise than academic and after leaving school early he dreamed of an acting career in Vaudeville but found more success promoting acts on backstage billboards which led to his first journalistic break in 1922 with a job for Vaudeville News. He climbed the journalistic ladder until in 1929 the New York Daily Mirror gave him his big break with the first syndicated gossip column entitled "On-Broadway". He took to it like a duck to water although many of the stars of the day found themselves in uncharted waters as to their disbelief their private lives were being analysed by the great American public as they read his column every morning whilst enjoying their breakfast coffee. As his power built so did his ego, he would hold court at Table 50 at Manhattans upmarket Stork Club where movie stars, sports men, politicians, authors and gangsters would vie to pay his tab such was the influence of his opinion in the press. From the 1930's through to the 1950's he could literally make or break a career in the upper echelons of stage and screen. He dined with presidents, mobsters and even J. Edgar Hoover the head of the FBI who was grateful for Winchell's assistance when the mobster fugitive Louis Buchalter gave himself up to Walter on 24th August 1939 after being on the run from the Feds since 1936. During the 1940's he was in his prime but as the decade merged into the 1950's his ego failed to recognise his dwindling popularity and some unusually bad choices proved disastrous for his career. His misplaced loyalties towards the Stork Clubs unwritten policy of segregated audiences led to a public spat with the French artist Josephine Baker who he lazily accused of Communist tendencies. The fallout and publicity in liberal New York did not go down well and his steadfast support for McCarthyism was the beginning of his slow isolation to his self made ivory tower. His decline from the pinnacle of his cultivated culture of American gossip was slow and painful for Winchell. He believed he could change the world but failed to see the world changing before his own eyes until his lonely demise at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. As to be expected from someone whose work coined the phrase "Winchellism", he was good for a one liner, so here is my compilation of 15 of the best Walter Winchell quotes
- Mini Bio
- Name: Walter Winchell
- Born: 7th April 1897, Harlem, New York City, U.S.
- Died: 20th February 1972, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
- Resting place: Greenwood Memory Lawn Mortuary and Cemetery
- Occupation: journalist and gossip columnist
- Marriage resume: Rita Greene 1919 - 1928 (divorced)
- Life partner: June Magee 1922 - 1970 (her death)
- Nicknames: Peek's Bad Boy and WW
- Height: 5' 7" (1.7 m)
- Trade Mark: He always wore a fedora hat
- Trivia: He announced his retirement from journalism on 5th February 1969 so he could take care of the love of his life June Magee whose health was fragile and after her death in 1970 he lived as a recluse holed up in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles
- Quotes about Walter Winchell: The actress Lauren Bacall recalled him thus: "Winchell was a good newspaperman but a vain man, convinced he could change the course of world events - slightly deluded, but never mind. He also fancied himself a ladies' man"
- The author Sam Kashner recognised his journalistic influence when he said: "At the height of his popularity, in the late 1930s, 50 million people two-thirds of American adults read Winchell's syndicated column and listened to his Sunday-night radio broadcast"
- The New York Times journalist Mervyn Rothstein summed up his reputation by saying: "Hated, feared, and revered, he presided over Table 50 of the Stork Club on East 53d Street in Manhattan, creating and destroying celebrities at the drop of his trademark gray snap-brim fedora"
"Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you"
"We found that we were citizens of a kingdom more beautiful than Camelot. Not a never-never land, but a very real and magic place called Broadway"
"America would be a better place to live in if all the people who didn't like it would leave it to the rest of us - who love it"
"All the lights on Broadway are never as bright as the candle in the window when you come home"
"Broadway's mountain. Tough sledding on the way up - a toboggan on the way down"
"Hollywood's a place where they shoot too many pictures and not enough actors"
"Hollywood is a place that must be seen to be disbelieved"
"The best way to get along is never to forgive an enemy or forget a friend"
"An optimist is someone who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery"
"Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid"
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out"
"Today's gossip is tomorrow's headline"
"Nothing recedes like success"
"Hell hath no fury like a woman cheated out of a million dollars"
"The same thing happened today that happened yesterday, only to different people"
Great quotes are not where you find great wisdom. It's where you share this knowledge that counts