Walter Winchell feverishly delivers the news while punching his ubiquitous telegraph key.
Although he has been gone for 40 years, I’m sure that someone reading this remembers the gossip writer and political columnist Walter Winchell (1898-1972).
Winchell was a character who thrived during the Depression of the 1930s through the early 1960s. He invented the newspaper term “gossip column” which he wrote using slang in short sentences separated by three dots.
He also had a radio program listened to by millions while being delivered in a “rat-a-tat” style as he punched a telegraph key to accent its importance and urgency. His opening line was “Good evening Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea! Let’s go to press!”
Winchell was both feared and respected by anyone in the public eye as he could be kind or vicious in his reporting. His two favorite public figures were President Franklin D. Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover. Shortly after his 1932 Presidential election, Roosevelt asked Winchell to the White House, where he thanked him for his support and told him to call whenever he wanted to.
Winchell died in 1972 at age 74 and is buried at the Greenlawn Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.
Here is my interpretation of how a Winchell column might look today in Scottsdale:
I stopped by In-N-Out Burger on Frank Lloyd Wright the other day. It’s nice to see such an efficient crew of young people at work plus their burgers would rival the Stork Club…I like those soccer fields north of the canal on Hayden by the TPC. Too bad they always say “closed”. If you used them anyway, I’m sure a red flasher would appear in a New York heartbeat and tell you to scram. Don’t we pay taxes for those facilities?…If you have a young son, I have two words for you to pass on: “Learn golf!” In 2012, 99 guys on the PGA Tour made over one million simoleons in prize money. The game t’aint easy, McGee but the bucks are there if you can play…I’ve seen seniors in Scottsdale struggle to push their trash can to the curb. Scottsdale should have a smaller, lighter can for seniors who don’t have much trash. I’ve seen other cities do it as the truck picks up both size cans… I’m hearing tattoo remorse from Scottsdale women who in their younger days thought it was cool to have a large “tramp stamp” on their lower back. Now in their 30’s with a husband and children they hate the tattoo and want it removed. No problem! It takes about 10 laser sessions over a year’s time and will cost about a thousand smackers. My advice? Use your noggin next time and don’t deface yourself…The Scottsdale school system thinks kids should have iPads in kindergarten. What? How about teaching cursive writing first? It’s no wonder the school override lost… Emily Post would be shocked at the bad manners on Black Friday …Does anyone miss the Safari Inn at Camelback and Scottsdale Roads? I miss their 85 cent martinis and $4.50 filets…I always enjoy the championship game of the Fall Baseball League at Scottsdale Stadium. The winners celebrate like they won the World Series…Michelle’s wig looks like something Diana Ross would have worn in 1968…I saw a TV ad tonight for a social site called “Black People Meet.com.” I wonder what the reaction would be to “White People Meet.com”.
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Bio: Jim McAllister has been a Plugged-In Scottsdale blogger, an Arizona Republic Sunday Plugged-In contributor, and a Scottsdale Republic columnist since 2005. He has also written for the Sonoran News and did a weekly column from 2004-2006 for the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley Independent. In 2004 he wrote a 7 part series on The History of Television for TV TOME (now TV.Com). A veteran of the U. S. Air Force, he has done hosting and commercial work in radio and TV and currently does a blog at jmcallister.blogspot.com.