Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio commentator. He invented the gossip column while at the New York Evening Graphic.
Born Walter Winschel in New York City, he started performing in vaudeville troupes as a teenager.
He began his career in journalism by posting notes about his acting troupe on backstage bulletin boards. He began writing for the Vaudeville News in 1920, leaving the paper for the Evening Graphic in 1924. On June 10th 1929 he was hired by the New York Daily Mirror where he finally became a syndicated columnist.
By the 1930s, he was “an intimate friend of Owney Madden, New York’s No. 1 gang leader of the prohibition era,” but “in 1932 Winchell’s intimacy with criminals caused him to fear he would be ‘rubbed out’ for ‘knowing too much.'” He fled to California, ” returned weeks later with a new enthusiasm for law, G-men, Uncle Sam, Old Glory.” His coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping and subsequent trial received national attention. Within two years, he befriended J. Edgar Hoover, the No. 2 G-man of the repeal era. He was responsible for turning Louis “Lepke” Buchalter of Murder, Inc. over to Hoover.