The Secret Life of Walter Winchell by Lyle Stuart

Ours is an evanescent age, and among the vanished are newspaper columnists who have migrated to the Internet where they blog, often it seems to an audience of one. Yet, there was a time when newspaper columnists reached millions and shaped public taste with the tap of a typewriter key. For a time, the King of Columnists was Walter Winchell (1897-1972) of the New York Daily Mirror who boasted: "Other columnists may print it--I make it public." And so he did, in short bursts of tommy gun prose that drew from the argot of Broadway, the underworld, and the prize ring. "I really gave it to that bum," Winchell would boast, and it didn't matter if the victim was a Congressman, movie star, or fellow columnist with whom Walter carried on one of his legendary feuds. Among those he feuded with was the late Lyle Stuart--a crusading journalist whose classic 1953 biography shed light on Winchell's own world of showgirls and backroom favors (not to mention colossal inaccuracies) and helped lead to the columnist's downfall. American Legends Publishing, 154 pg. $1.00