Winchell, Walter

Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 24, 2004

    Feared gossip columnist who worked primarily for the New York Daily Mirror. Winchell was at the peak of his power broadcasting on the NBC Blue Network in the 1930s, where he could make or break careers based solely on what he said about people of prominence. Winchell was known for high-energy delivery, imbuing his words with a great sense of urgency, reportedly due to his practice of drinking glassfuls of water shortly before each broadcast. The show opened with the sound of a radio telegraph sounding furiously, as Winchell breathlessly opened his show with the phrase “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea”.

    Speaking of the Weather (Tashlin, 1937) has a Winchell caricature peeping through the keyhole in Look magazine and reporting the escape of a convict in Radio News magazine. His so-called “feud” with bandleader Ben Bernie was used as the basis for gags in both The Coo-coo Nut Grove (Freleng, 1936) and The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (Tashlin, 1937). Winchell sound-alikes, probably voiced by Dave Weber are heard in Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas (Avery, 1938) advising Pokerhuntas to save Smith, as well as in Herr Meets Hare (Freleng, 1945) in the first scene, noting that Hermann Göering is resting his nerves in the Black Forest. The town crier in The Hardship of Miles Standish (Freleng, 1940) imitates the Winchell delivery, shouting “Flash! What maid is that way about a certain captain?”.

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