Walter Winchell – 1897-1972
Winchell (who originally spelled his name Winchel) was a vaudeville entertainer who became a part-time gossip columnist in 1927. This quickly evolved into a full-time job as people responded to his rapid-fire, telegraphic style, which embodied the latest slang. By the 1930s, Winchell was nationally syndicated in the papers and, beginning in 1932, had a national radio program as well. He delivered news and gossip, was highly opinionated, and had access to all the nation’s movers and shakers. From the 1930s through the 1950s, he wielded tremendous influence. He crusaded for social justice (as in his campaigns against racism and the rise of Hitler), but by the 1950s he became an arch-conservative and a major apologist for Senator Joseph McCarthy.