Man About Town

Walter Winchell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/May 7, 1940

Two Communists were beginning to have grave suspicions of the truth of the propaganda which Moscow was sending to the Daily Worker in New York. One of them was preparing to go to Moscow to report to the Kremlin. He promised his friend that he would send him the truth concerning Russia—in a way to evade the censors. He said: “If I write in blue ink, everything I say is true. If I write in red ink, the opposite is true.”

A month later, the New York Communist received a letter from his friend in Moscow. It read: “Russia is the most peace-loving country on the face of the earth. Stalin is loved by all the workers. Wages are high, working conditions are good. There is an abundance of meat, vegetables, fruits and sweets. In a word, you can get anything you want in Russia, except a bottle of red ink.”


Hannen Swaffer had a delightful punch in the eye for Ward Price, the British apologist for Hitler. It appears that Mr. Price got hot and bothered when the Turkish authorities deprived him of his Roget’s Thesaurus and a French dictionary. Sassed Swaffer: “Ward Price used to be much more tolerant of the Nazis when they took from every journalist every scrap of liberty.”


The best joke around London we hear is the one about the British flier who got back a day late after a leaflet raid on Berlin. Asked why he was so long in dropping the leaflets, he replied: “Dropping them? Good heavens! I thought I had to push them under the door!”


At the 18 Club last night, clown Frankie Hyers said he dreamed that Hitler has lost the war and was appearing before a tribunal of representatives from the other countries. Hitler was told that he personally, not the German nation, would have to pay, for all the damages. “I haven’t anything,” Adolf protested, “and I won’t pay! You can cut me to pieces first!”

“That’s fine!” dryly replied the British deputy. “I’ll take the biggest piece—give me his gall!”


The signing of Oscar Levant for a movie recalls the time he was in Hollywood on a studio mission as an Idea Man. “What are your duties?” asked a puzzled friend. “Exactly what is an Idea Man?”

“Well,” explained Oscar. “I roam around the lot—I watch the script writers at work. I observe the directors rehearsing the actors. I study the shooting and retaking of scenes—then I go to the producers and say: “What’s the big idea?”


Charlie Chaplin tells this on himself. He was told some time ago by a friend from Germany why Hitler looks so much like him. Hitler is supposed to have purposely made himself resemble Chaplin. According to the story, when Hitler started struggling for recognition he decided that his best bet was to look like someone all the people loved. After studying a number of world-famous celebrities, Hitler finally selected Chaplin as the man most loved by the German people. So he proceeded to make himself as much as much like Chaplin as possible, clipping his long mustache to toothbrush style.


The latest thing in chain letters was started in Reno in the hope of bringing happiness to all tired businessmen. Unlike most chains, this one doesn’t cost anybody money. You simply send a copy of the letter to five male friends.

Then, says the letter, “bundle up your wife and send her to the fellow whose name heads the list. When your name works to the top, you will in return, receive 15,716 gorgeous girls. Have faith. Do not break the chain. One man broke the chain and got his wife back.”


Heywood Broun, in praise of a city spring: “Any fool can stand upon a hill in the country and be aware that grass is up and that trees have begun to bud: but in the city spring is served a la carte rather than in heaping portions. Back of my farm lie heavy woods. Yet none of these trees appeal to me so deeply as a scrubby sapling which grew in the back yard of my house in New York. When a tree digs its roots down among water pipes and gas mains and thrusts its way up through dust and cinders, that’s something. I sometimes think that never blooms a tulip quite so red as that which shows its head in a Park Avenue flower bed between the traffic. We Manhattan nature lovers love her best because we know so little about her.”


One famous Broadway marriage has been full of battles. The other night the groom was groaning about his troubles. “I think I’ll send a letter to Beatrice Fairfax and ask for her advice,” he said. “Why” yawned a bored listener, “don’t you send a letter to Major George Fielding Eliot!”


Add Literary Lace: Mark Twain’s quote in Readers Digest. “He looked him over as though he were trying to find a spot to despise the most.” Alfred Adler’s: “It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”


Bugs Baer in the New York Journal and American: “Every once in a while, the old Monroe Doctrine is polished up like the family silverware when visitors are expected.” John Anderson’s criticism of an actress who was playing several roles: “She put quite a strain on her art—to say nothing of her audience.”


Pretty serious von Ribbentropaganda against England. Great Britain, it appears, plotted to oppose Norway’s “protection by Nazi massacre,” which the Nazis are so proud of having done with Poland. It is significant that on the day the Nazi government was begging the world to take its worthless word, report came through that the suffering in Poland is the worst in ten centuries.


When Scalise was indicted on 53 counts, most of the papers reckoned that his prison term would range from 780 to 1,560 years, if guilty. The Herald Tribune recklessly headlined, however, that it might mean life!


In the Beachcomber this one got a laugh. A business executive grabbed his hat one 2 p.m. on a fine spring day and marched out of the office announcing that he was off to the ball game. A little Milquetoast guy in the office was envious. “In that case,” he said to a pal, “I’m going to sneak home and read a book. The boss will never know.” And with that he slipped out. But when he arrived home he spotted his boss in the living room embracing his wife—so he quietly shut the door and hurried back to the office.

“What happened?” asked his pal. “I thought you were going home to read a book.”

“I was,” panted the Milquetoast, “but I almost got caught!”

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