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Subject: Re: Walter Winchell (Re: Flagstad)
From: dtritter <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:dtritter <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 23 Jun 2003 07:22:11 -0400

text/plain (56 lines)

the list has a good measure of factual correction on flagstad during
WWII, as
well as data on her husband, johanson, and his quisling connections.
did a bit to inflame enemies here, in the time between the nazi invasion
of norway
in april 1940 and her return to be with her husband some months later. she
inadvertently made an enemy of a norwegian diplomat in washington , a man
who appears to have spread ugly and baseless rumors about her supposed

winchell was an ex-hoofer who literally fell into the gosdsip trade and
became a self-created voice for his sketchily acquired knowledge of
at first, he was a fierce anti-nazi,anti-america firster, anti fathr
coughlin, etc., etc.
as the years wore on, his radio program, sponsored by jergens lotion on
national radio, was a staple must-listen on sunday nights, largely
hollywood and
broadway gossip and endorsements of current entertainment. he was a staunch
favorite of ex-gangster sherman billingsley, owner of the fashionable
stork club,
where winchell held forth nightly at his prominent table. his close
buddy and
frequent companion there was fbi director j. edgar hoover, who fed him
tips and nurtured
a pathological anti-communism that became a stock in trade and led
winchell into the
arms, practices of mccarthy and friends. though dubious as to whether he
could even
spell opera, winchell picked up on the johanson arrest in norway and was
told that this
was flagstad's husband, naturally leading this simplistic but shrill
national megaphone
into a campaign for demonstrations and boycotts of flagstad's postwar
appearances in
the united states. as a super-patriot, winchell thought it his duty to
warn his
audiences against this threat to american decency.

there is an excellent biography of winchell by neil gabler which tells
the long and
repulsive story of this tiresome blight on american journalism.
gradually, his public
wearied of his rants and he became a self-caricature. fans of the tv
series, "the untouchables,"
have a sample of the winchell voice and style in his intro and narration
of the fbi
[vide winchell's buddy, hoover] and its campaign to destroy organized
crime in the
'30's.  winchell peddled this stuff for so long, he came to believe that
he himself had
caused the demise of al capone. and company.


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