Memos of a Girl Friday

Walter Winchell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/May 20, 1940

Dear Mr. W.: A reader has no proof of the following, but says this is the buzz among Wall Streeters for the recent dive in the market . . . That Germans were using American securities which they had captured from neutral countries, the reason being that (1) England would be forced to sell the American securities she has at lower prices. (2) It was a drive to show neutrals how much the world fears German military strength. (3) Fifth column activity in the U.S. (4) To give Goebbels, Goering, et al. further opportunity to get American securities at lower prices. Take it or leave it . . . Tony Martin and Alice Faye are at the Pierre, on separate floors. Tony will propose all over again . . . What dope gave us that wrongo on Mrs. Vincent Astor’s ettykit being n. g. because she used a spoon to eat an avocado? That’s krect!

Lord Lothian called on Col. Stimson, our former Sec’y of State, at the Pierre  . . . Hmmmm? . . . John Gunther starts for NBC seven days a week starting Monday . . . Dorothy T’s cabled idea from Paris makes sense, I think: “The Republicans should not nominate a Presidential candidate to oppose Roosevelt. But instead nominate Wendell Wilkie for Vice President? . . . Dixie Dunbar’s not a bride yet . . . Groucho Marx says he will solo it, maybe, in the fall, on a radio show, but only because he and Chico were never a click on the air. No feud.

It might amuse you to know at last Friday night’s meeting of the Bund uptown they had a fan dancer. Some of the more touchy members were scandalized. They remarked how awful it would be if Herr Winchell got hold of it! . . . Incidentally, nobody important takes seriously the Nazis’ “mysterious weapon” which they have publicized so heavily. Washington is sure it is an invention of the German Propaganda bureau to cover up Fifth Column treachery, etc. . . . An editor at Time told me this at the Stork last night: In Caesar’s time the cost of killing a man was only 75 cents . . . In Napoleon’s time it cost $3,000 . . . During the Civil War–$21,000 . . . $35,000 during the World War; this war, $55,000.

Harry Hansen called. Said the idea that Prof. Maurer made up the term “winchell” to signify a sucker because he was peeved with you, and then stuck it into a perfectly serious study of argot in American Speech, sounds like a fantastic misuse of academic privilege. Mr. Hansen added he intended seeing to it that the editors of American Speech up at Columbia get the news . . . E. Cantor will m.c. the big Red Cross air show May 26th from 10 to 11 p.m . . . Queen Wilhelmina may be piped in as may Leopold and FDR . . . Hope Saroyan isn’t superstitious. The first letters of “Love’s Old Sweet Song” spell “Loss.”

Belle Baker’s new radio program, “Scrapbook of a Star” is very entertaining—it rates the att’n of the big shots . . . Frances Farmer’s pres agent says Frances and Leif Erickson have no plans for anything—just letting matters ride . . . Remember the nurse that saved Lubitsch’s baby when the Athenia sank? Well, something’s happened—she’s not employed by him now . . . Hear the talk about Claudette Colbert and her doctor groom planning a parting is not kosher. Claudette says she knows such gossip makes delightful conversation at cocktail parties so she lets everybody go along talking about her, while she lives a sane and happy marriage, etc.

“The Man Who Came to Dinner” press dep’t called. To point out that Kaufman and Hart went back much further than the French Revolution for the plot of that hit. They lifted it, they say, from the old legend of Sinbad the Sailor. The old Man of the Sea, you recall, pleaded old age and infirmity as he asked Sinbad for a lift. When Sinbad obliged, the Old Gent refused to get off his back and Sinbad had a devil of a time getting rid of him, etc. . . . The Music Box office split concerns the M. Langs. Some folks thought you meant the Charles Thomases, but some folks are jerky . . . It cost $80,000 to bring Romeo and Juliet to New York. All your 1939 taxes are paid . . . “Ma” Simmonds leaves the Shuberts this weekend after about 20 years of laughs and headaches . . . Danny Kaye at LaMartinique convulses me.

This should delight you. From FDR’s speech on preparedness at the Pan-American affair last week: “Speaking in terms of time tables, it is a shorter distance from the center of Europe to Santiago de Chile . . . In modern terms it is a shorter distance from Europe to San Francisco than it was for the ships and legions of Caesar to move from Rome to Spain. Today it is four or five hours from Africa to South America, where it was four or five weeks for the armies of Napoleon to move from Paris to Rome or Poland” . . . From your editorial of the Sunday before: “One hundred years ago, California was three months from New York, and New York was six weeks from London. Now, California is five days from Paris, and N. Y. is 7 ½ hours from Greenland” . . . FDR had better be careful. They’ll be calling him a flag-waver.

Read Irwin Shaw’s short story, “Weep in the Years to Come,” a cameoing of a mood too many of us are in . . . The American Rayon exhibit at the Fair will do a strip tease in reverse. Beginning June 1st a lighting (male) draper will dress live (female) models . . . That oughta attract crowds . . . Tamara Geve will do a radio series by I. Strouse called “Lady Spy.” Geva will be Mata Hari . . . Ever see Frances Maddux’s five-foot long charm bracelet? She’s at the Harlequin and it contains so many risgaities . . . Colleen Ward, the NBC actress, called with a suggestion: Call hot romances blisskriegs.

Violet Carlson is back after big success in Australia . . . I think Arthur Murray rates an orchid for giving his local staff a $10,000 bonus while he holidayed in Hollywood . . . Roy Larsen of Life called his tailor and asked to be taken off that awful “best-dressed list” which embarrasses him annually. The tailor jokingly said “ten suits,” which Larsen immediately ordered! . . . Ignore the Republic Aviation dividend item . . . Dorothy Thompson was irked by The New Yorker’s recent pieces because a certain man was listed as one of her brain trust! .  . “Such rot!” said La Thompson, “I know him only to say goodbye to!”

When FDR recently confided to a New Yorker: “These are the last sixty days of sanity,” he certainly knew what he was saying. I see where most editorial writers now seem to fear so, too . . . But, oh, how they did everything to discourage you and other Americans, while they indirectly gave comfort and satisfaction to the Pelleys, Kuhns, Fronters, Bunds, Commys and other parachutists, who are already here! . . . If the mail is any criterion you could start your own organization overnight and scare hell outta a lotta dopes who think they are here to stay

Your Girl Friday 

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