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Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (23) | Personal Quotes (10) | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 7 April 1897New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 20 February 1972Los Angeles, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameWalter Winchel
Nickname Peek's Bad Boy
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Walter Winchell was born on April 7, 1897 in New York City, New York, USA as Walter Winchel. He was an actor and writer, known for The Untouchables (1959), The Walter Winchell File (1957) and Wake Up and Live (1937). He was married to Rita Greene. He died on February 20, 1972 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Spouse (1)

Rita Greene (11 August 1919 - 1928) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Fedora hat
Stacatto speaking voice

Trivia (23)

Born at 7:30am-EST
His son committed suicide.
His adopted daughter died of pneumonia.
His daughter, Walda, was mentally unbalanced and was the only person at his graveside when he died.
Walter Winchell's grave is located at Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona.
He was the most powerful and feared gossip columnist and radio commentator in America in the 1930s and 1940s. He briefly attempted a movie career in the 1930s. (In his youth he had been a minor Vaudeville singer.)
The columnist played by Burt Lancaster in the movie Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is somewhat loosely based on Winchell.
For years, Bob Hope wanted to produce and star in a biopic about Winchell, but he never got the project off the ground.
He never legally married June Magee, the mother of his children, because he had been introducing her as his wife for some time before the birth of their first child, Walda, and he did want anyone to know that Walda was illegitimate. He and June kept the secret successfully all their lives.
He was to star in Okay, America! (1932) as himself in his own biopic, but he dropped out due to a busy schedule. Lew Ayres played him.
Daughter Gloria born and adopted c. 1924. Daughter Eileen Joan "Walda" Winchell born March 21, 1927. Son Walt, Jr. born July 26, 1935.
Daughter Gloria died from pneumonia when she was nine. Winchell called it "the only tragedy in my life."
His son died at the age of 33 after shooting himself in the mouth. It was 36 years to the day after his daughter Gloria died.
Coined the phrase, "America - love it or leave it."
His wife's sister was the first wife of comic/writer Joey Adams, later the husband of NYPost Columnist Cindy Adams. (Source: Cindy Adams column, NYPost 9/17/06).
Wife Rita was a former vaudeville partner. They separated within a few years, not divorcing until 1928. By this time he had been living for years with June Magee who had given birth to his child Walda. The couple had three children in all, and each marked by tragedy.
Winchell announced his retirement on February 5, 1969, citing the tragedy of his son Walter Jr.'s suicide as a major factor, while also noting the delicate health of his wife. Exactly one year later, she died at a Phoenix hospital while undergoing treatment for a heart condition.
Winchell's final two years were spent as a recluse at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. He died of prostate cancer at the age of 74.
Robert A. Heinlein coined the term "winchell" as a generic description for a politically active gossip columnist.
In song, Winchell was often a cynical lyric reference. In the Mel Brooks Broadway musical "The Producers", later adapted to film as The Producers (2005), Leo Bloom (played by Matthew Broderick) sings, "I want to read my name in Winchell's column" during the song "I Want to Be A Producer"; the Cole Porter composition "Let's Fly Away," include the lines, "Let's fly away/ And find a land that's so provincial/ We'll never hear what Walter Winchell/ Might be forced to say." Pianist Buddy Greco's version of "The Lady Is A Tramp" features the lyric "why she reads Walter Winchell and understands every line." Winchell is also mentioned in Billy Joel's history-themed song "We Didn't Start the Fire".
Caricatured in "The Woods are Full of Cuckoos" as Walter Finchell, and in "Speaking of the Weather" as Walter Snitchall.
Winchell carried on a long-standing feud with actress Ethel Barrymore who said, " It is a sad commentary that Walter Winchell is allowed to exist, and the worst of it is, not that he is published here [New York], but his stuff appears all over the country.

Personal Quotes (10)

"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." - Lauren Bacall.
Hollywood is a place that must be seen to be disbelieved.
Hollywood's a place where they shoot too many pictures and not enough actors.
... And so - with lotions of love - this is your New York correspondent, Walter Winchell, who knows that all the lights on Broadway are never as bright as the candle in the window when you come home.
I think it's important for anyone on a newspaper, particularly one who is doing a column, to "build his fences." . . . Of course I mean make as many friends as you can. You never know from where the next line or paragraph is coming. One of your best stories may come from a fellow whose face you never liked, but whom you were nice to -- and he appreciated your being civil to him, which is why he gave you the break.
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!
What if I lose my column? Then I'm no different than the loudmouth in the bar. The man who sells papers on the corner may have a more secure future.
Broadway's mountain. Tough sledding on the way up - a toboggan on the way down.
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.
A man who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery is an optimist.

Salary (2)

Broadway Thru a Keyhole (1933) $25,000
The Untouchables (1959) $25,000 per episode

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