Heywood Broun

Heywood Broun

Heywood Broun (c. 1935)
Born Heywood Campbell Broun, Jr.
(1888-12-07)December 7, 1888
Brooklyn, New York City
New York, USA
Died December 18, 1939(1939-12-18) (aged 51)
New York City
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Journalist, sportswriter, columnist
Political party Socialist
Religion Roman Catholic convert
Spouse(s) Ruth Hale (1917–1933)
Maria Dooley (also known as Connie Madison, 1933–1939; his death)
Children Heywood Hale Broun

Heywood Campbell Broun, Jr. (/ˈbrn/; December 7, 1888 – December 18, 1939) was an American journalist. He worked as a sportswriter, newspaper columnist, and editor in New York City. He founded the American Newspaper Guild, now known as The Newspaper Guild. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he is best remembered for his writing on social issues and his championing of the underdog. He believed that journalists could help right wrongs, especially social ills.


Broun was born in Brooklyn, the third of four children born to Heywood C. Broun and Henrietta Marie (née Brose) Broun.

He attended Harvard University, but did not earn a degree. He began his professional career writing baseball stories in the sports section of the New York Morning Telegraph. Broun worked at the New York Tribune from 1912–1921, rising to drama critic before transferring to the New York World (1921–28). While at the World, he started writing his syndicated column, It Seems to Me. In 1928, he moved to the Scripps-Howard newspapers, including the New York World-Telegram. His column was published there he moved it to the New York Post. His only column appeared in that paper just days before his death.

As a drama critic, Broun once characterized Geoffrey Steyne as the worst actor on the American stage. Steyne sued Broun, but a judge threw the case out. The next time Broun reviewed a production with Steyne in the cast, he left the actor out of the review. His final sentence was "Mr. Steyne's performance was not up to its usual standard."

An attributed line of lasting quotability, "Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else", is used widely, often in arguments about documentation and history.[1]

From 1927 to 1937, Broun write a regular column, titled "It Seems to Heywood Broun", for the magazine The Nation. His column included criticism of another employer, the New York World, who fired Broun as a result. Broun later left The Nation for the rival The New Republic.[2]

In 1930, Broun unsuccessfully ran for Congress, as a Socialist. A slogan of Broun's was "I'd rather be right than Roosevelt."

In 1933, Broun, along with New York Evening Post Editor Joseph Cookman, John Eddy of The New York Times and Allen Raymond of the New York Herald Tribune, helped to found The Newspaper Guild. The Newspaper Guild sponsors an annual Heywood Broun Award for outstanding work by a journalist, especially work that helps correct an injustice.

Beginning February 8, 1933, Broun starred in a radio program, The Red Star of Broadway, on WOR (AM) in Newark, New Jersey. Broun was featured as "The Man About Town of Broadway." Sponsored by Macy's, the program also included musicians and minstrels.[3]

In 1938, Broun helped found the weekly tabloid Connecticut Nutmeg, soon renamed Broun's Nutmeg.[4]

Personal life

On June 7, 1917, Broun married writer-editor Ruth Hale, a feminist, who a few years later co-founded the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to keep their maiden names after marriage, in the manner of Lucy Stone. At their wedding, the columnist Franklin P. Adams characterized the usually easygoing Broun and the more strident Hale as "the clinging oak and the sturdy vine."[5] They had one son, Heywood Hale Broun.

Along with his friends the critic Alexander Woollcott, writer Dorothy Parker and humorist Robert Benchley, Broun was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table from 1919 to 1929, where his usually dishevelled appearance led to him being likened to "an unmade bed." He was also close friends with the Marx Brothers, and attended their show The Cocoanuts more than 20 times. Broun joked that his tombstone would read, "killed by getting in the way of some scene shifters at a Marx Brothers show."

In November 1933 his wife obtained a divorce. In 1935 he married a widowed chorus girl named Maria Incoronata Fruscella Dooley (stage name Connie Madison).[4]

Seven months before his death, Broun, who had been an agnostic,[6] converted to Roman Catholicism after discussions with Fulton Sheen.[7] Broun died of pneumonia, at age 51, in New York City. More than 3,000 mourners attended his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Among them were New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, columnist Franklin Pierce Adams, actor-director George M. Cohan, playwright-director George S. Kaufman, New York World editor Herbert Bayard Swope, columnist Walter Winchell and actress Tallulah Bankhead.

Broun is buried in the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York (about 25 miles north of New York City).

Film portrayal

Broun was portrayed by the actor Gary Basaraba in the 1994 film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.[8]

In the first season of the Amazon television series Z: The Beginning of Everything, Broun is portrayed by the actor Tony Manna. [9]


  1. Sitting on the World, New York: GP Putnam's Sons, 1924
  2. vanden Heuvel, Katrina, ed. (1990). The Nation: 1865-1990. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 102. ISBN 1560250011.
  3. "Macy's New Show" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 15, 1933. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  4. 1 2 Gale, Robert L. An F. Scott Fitzgerald Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998, p. 49
  5. Broun, Heywood Hale. Whose Little Boy Are You?: A Memoir of the Broun Family. St. Martin's Press, 1983. p. 6
  6. Feinberg, Louis. The Satirist. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2006, p. 157.
  7. "Bishop Fulton Sheen: The First "Televangelist"". Time. 1952-04-14. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  8. Internet Movie Database entry for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle



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