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NY Trivia: Walter Winchell’s Unprecedented Power

Q: Where did Walter Winchell write most of his famous columns?

Bonus question: Was Winchell Jewish?

A: The Stork Club.

From Prohibition to the dawn of disco, the Stork Club was New York’s most famous nightspot, attracting celebrities including Joe Dimaggio, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, J. Edgar Hoover, Ernest Hemingway; the Kennedys, Ethel Merman, Irving Berlin, Carl Sandberg, Jimmy Durante, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Bonus: And YES he was Jewish, born Walter Winschel.

One of the most popular and controversial figures in radio and newsprint, Walter Winchell was born April 7, 1897 in New York City. Winchell left school after the sixth grade and spent several years in vaudeville as part of Gus Edwards’ “Newsboys Sextet.”  Winchell was writing a regular gossip column for the New York Daily Mirror when he made his radio debut in 1930. In an era dominated by sober analysis, Winchell was colorful, emotional, and fiercely opinionated, and his top-rated show brought him an unprecedented celebrity and power. His newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, and he was read by 50 million people a day from the 1920s until the early 1960s. Winchell was one of the first commentators in America to attack Adolf Hitler and American pro-fascist and pro-Nazi organizations such as the German-American Bund. After World War II, Winchell began to denounce Communism as the main threat facing America. Walter Winchell died on February 20, 1972.

Join Menorah for a celebration of Jewish New York, honoring Professor David Shneer. Sunday, September 18, 5:30 pm at the Avalon Ballroom.  To register for “New York, New York” click here. Questions?  contact or visit


About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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One comment

  1. Glad you recognized that he was one of the earliest to identify the Nazi menace, overseas and here. Many people only recall his later years when he was aligned with McCarthy. He was on the right side of issues far longer than he was on the far right side of issues, especially for the Jewish community.