Walter Winchell

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But Winchell’s fans knew. Visiting Winchell’s winter radio broadcast in Miami in 1947, Alistair Cooke, writing for the British magazine Listener , observed the thrall in which Winchell held his audience. “He was the promise of American freedom and uninhibited bounce,” wrote Cooke, “he was Americanism symbolized in a nosethumbing at the portentousness of the great.” And seeing his appeal, Cooke believed that in years hence he would pass “into American folklore, and his memory will mushroom its own legends as easily as Paul Bunyan or John Henry or Johnny Appleseed, who also were actual men, ridiculously smaller or duller than the creatures they struck off from the imagination of the American people.”

Winchell hasn’t achieved mythic status, but to restore him now to his rightful place in the history of our popular culture would constitute a small victory in his war against the cultural royalists.