Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Originally named Walter Winchel (one l), he was born in New York City on April 7, 1897, and spent his formative years there. In newspaper columns and on the radio, he invented the gossip column at the New York Evening Graphic. He broke the journalistic taboo against exposing the private lives of public figures, permanently altering the shape of journalism and celebrity.
Winchell started performing in vaudeville troupes while still in his teens. He married Rita Greene, one of his onstage partners, on August 11, 1919. They separated a few years later and he moved in with June Magee. She had already given birth to their first child, daughter Walda, by the time he actually divorced Greene in 1928. He and Miss Magee had been pretending to be married for some years by then. They never did marry because he was always afraid that the marriage license would be discovered and reveal to the world that Walda was illegitimate. Winchell and Magee successfully kept the secret of their non-marriage their whole lives.
He was extremely popular and influential in shaping public opinion, notoriously aiding and ruining the careers of many entertainers. He wrote many quips such as "Nothing recedes like success," and "I usually get my stuff from people who promised somebody else that they would keep it a secret." Winchell was also one of the first public commentators in America to attack Hitler and American pro-Nazi organizations such as the German-American Bund on radio and in his columns.
He began his radio broadcasts with the catch phrase "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. North America and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press."
In the 1950s he supported Senator Joseph McCarthy, and as McCarthy's "Red Scare" tactics became more extreme and unbelievable, Winchell lost credibility along with McCarthy. His readership gradually dropped, and when his home paper, the New York Mirror , closed in the 1960s, he faded from the public eye.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details