Memos of a Girl Friday

Walter Winchell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/November 1, 1942

Dear Mr. W.: Warner Brothers checked on the audience response to Errol Flynn’s current film, “Desperate Journey.” in local theatres—and then decided to open his newest “Gentleman Jim,” in 80 theatres next week . . .The boos were drowned out by the applause . . . Friends of mine here from the Coast tell me that before the Flynn case is over it will involve a large blackmail ring. I was told to tell you to warn all the big timers out there (who are in the blue chips) not to pay off any shakedown . . . Here’s hoping Tuesday’s meatless Election Day will be Fish-less.

I see where Mrs. Dilling, arraigned in Washington on charges of spreading seditious literature, declared in court that she is “absolutely not guilty!” . . . Oh, well. She didn’t say “positively!” . . . Wendy Iglehart, who quit her job at Harper’s Bazaar (to do war work in South American relations) will soon marry Lt. Tex McCrary—not the ex-Mirror editorial writer. She will marry his brother, also called Tex, now in the Navy’s Air Force. Wendy had her pick—and the Navy won . . . Fred Allen called. Said a 5th columnist is a louse who’d turn the Liberty Bell into the scrap metal drive.

“Star Bound” will be the title of a new musical comedy, expected around Thanksgiving day. Really a tribute to Gus Edwards, who made so many stars. Mimics of today will impersonate Jessel, Cantor, Geo. Price, et al in it . . . If anyone in or out of H’wood is looking for the modern Lillian Russell—they can spot her at the Waldorf hat check rooms about 5 p.m. . . . Russell Patterson, the illustrator, is picking the beauties for the revue due at the new Rio Bomba, on the site of the Embassy on 57th Street . . .  Bennett Cerf phoned. Said following your announcement about Cecil Brown’s book “From Suez to Singapore,” the response Monday morning was electric. That you’re the best book salesman of all.

Some squawks about the item regarding Mature being taken by the Army after he enlisted in the Coast Guard. You should clarify why, they say. Mature—it appears—was actually a member of the Temporary Reserve. And such reservists are not exempt from the draft . . . The lad who spilled the lowdown on the theater ticket brokers (who are to be rapped in a Satevepost piece) is now going around with a guard . . . Allen Prescott is now a Lt. in the Navy . . .When Willkie was asked why he hadn’t snapped back at Senator Nye’s snide comment, he said “Oh, I knew Walter would do it, so I didn’t bother” . . . Jack Shuttleworth called. Said that some day we’re going to wake up and find that we have prohibition again—if we don’t wake up!

Talked with Jessel last night. Told me how some wise movie magnates had cautioned him against being seen in a show on Broadway unless it was a sure-fire hit . . . George pointed to a huge stationary clock in front of a jeweler’s and observed: “See that clock which doesn’t keep time? Well, twice a day it is right!” . . . Four of Sammy Kaye’s crew joined up . . . Remember that rabid pro-Hitler speaker, politico and what-nit named Newton Jenkins? . . . He helped distribute Dizzy Lizzie’s “seditious” literature, was a guest speaker at the Bund meetings and a co-worker in F.P. Moran’s Boston Front “racket” . . . Well, he dropped dead the other day.

Switchboard operators at the Grand Central induction spot have a neat squelch for impatient callers: “But this is the Army, Mr. Jones!” is the retort . . . Frank Loeser, who wrote “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” why may bring Navy Relief $50,000, also wrote “Jingle, Jangle, Jingle” and “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You, Baby” . . . Three of Broadway’s own broke into Who’s Who this month: Judith Evelyn, star of “Angel Street,” Ray Bolger, of “By Jupiter,” and producer Oscar Serin . . . S. Feldman, the Broadway playboy who was sentenced to five years in federal pen for kiting checks, is now in a straitjacket.

Rita Hayworth signs long about Tommy Harmon, the former All-American . . . Her press agent says so, at any rate . . . I’ll betcha it is the other way round! . . . The Lido spot on the 52nd and 7th corner will reopen soon as the Royal Casino. It will feature magazine-cover girls . . . Did you know a whole movie is being fashioned around The Pretty Girl . . . A certain ciggie package will have a new overcoat next month. Everything the same as now except the deep green part will be white. Dye priority, etc. . . .Carol Bruce and the Jolson air show will be divorced soon . . . Walter Kohler has a different job. He plays Hitler in radio’s “You Can’t Do Business with Hitler,” and has the part of Uncle Sam in the production “Uncle Sam Speaks” . . . Vaughn Monroe has a laundered version of “Strip Polka” he hopes the networks will permit.

The Stork’s new table cards: “No pipe smoking” can be traced to playwright Moss Hart’s pipe . . . We had a nice bomb scare in one of the midtown skyscrapers all week . . . Horace Haase, publisher and editor of a rag that clamored for a “quick negotiated peace” and “a peace without victory” has decided to retire from “public affairs.” He moved out of his B’way office (in which he also slept) and went to ask Cong. Fish if he could work on his campaign. Fish sure does attract some peculiar people . . . Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” ditty sold 75,218 copies last week.

I hear that the head of the German Division of OWI has instructed short-wavers to cut down on the use of the words “war criminals” . . . He says that not all Nazis are “war criminals”—only the SS bodyguards and a few big guys. He says “we must limit the target” . . . Why? . . . Local Free French tell me that OWI political bosses are fighting the Free French rather than Petain and Laval. And others representing governments in exile claim these same political bosses are fighting our allies instead of Goebbels and Co. . .  Miss Chicago, who was runner-up to Miss America in the recent Atlantic City pageant, is being married tomorrow to Sherwood Stedman, in Philly.

Jeanette Hackett’s Cocoanut Grove dance arrangements are big time . . . Can’t check the source for the denial on Mr. Cohan’s condition. The original report came from the first Mrs. Cohan to mutual friends . . . Senator Nye accuses others of spreading disunity, but continues to attack FDR, Willkie, Luce, Britain, Churchill, Dorothy Thompson, the New York Times etc. etc.  . . I don’t remember when he ever attacked the Nazis!

YOUR GIRL FRIDAY

(Source: Google News, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1876&dat=19421101&id=BfkeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=8soEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7306,22841&hl=en)

The works of Walter Winchell and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism. Visit our bookstore for single-volume collections–-ideal for research, reference use or casual reading.