Oscar Odd McIntyre
Portrait of O.O. McIntyre by Jim McDermott.
|Born||February 18, 1884|
|Died||February 14, 1938 (aged 53)|
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Maybelle Hope Small
(m. 1902; his death 1938)
Oscar Odd McIntyre (February 18, 1884 - February 14, 1938) was a New York newspaper columnist of the 1920s and 1930s, who used the byline O. O. McIntyre. His writings cleverly combined a small town point of view with urban sophistication. The Washington Post once described his column as "the letter from New York read by millions because it never lost the human, homefolk flavor of a letter from a friend." For a quarter of a century, his daily column, "New York Day by Day," was published in more than 500 newspapers.
Born in Plattsburg, Missouri, McIntyre began his newspaper career in 1902 on the Gallipolis Journal in Gallipolis, Ohio, where he married Maybelle Hope Small. He moved on to East Liverpool, Ohio to become a feature writer on the East Liverpool Morning Tribune. After a period as managing editor of the Dayton Herald (Dayton, Ohio), McIntyre worked as assistant managing editor at the Cincinnati Post. He was 28 years old when he arrived in New York in 1912 as an associate editor at Hampton's Magazine, which folded shortly after he took the job.
While freelancing and doing public relations work in 1912, he started writing a daily column about New York City life for "the home folks." He circulated these mimeographed columns through the mail, and the Bridgeport Post was the first newspaper to run the column at an annual fee of $8. With his wife handling his business affairs, he soon had syndication contracts with Scripps-Howard and McNaught. Within two years, 26 papers had signed on at an annual fee of $600. In New York, his column appeared in the Journal-American. Back in Gallipolis, the Gallipolis Tribune ran the column on its front page.
His publicity work for the Hotel Majestic gave him free room and board, and syndication made him one of the highest paid newspaper writers with an income of more than $200,000 each year. He lived in style, and his many celebrity friends included Irvin S. Cobb, Gene Fowler, Major Bowes and top talents of Broadway. He was the publicist for Flo Ziegfeld and various comedians and actors.
His column required him to daily write approximately 800 words, or about 292,000 words a year. He usually worked right after breakfast, keeping the blinds closed and the lights on because he disliked sunlight, and by 5:30pm he had completed another installment. The column ran in 508 newspapers in every state, Mexico and Canada, for a combined circulation of 15,000,000. McIntyre received 3,000 letters a week from his readers. He also wrote a monthly essay for Cosmopolitan for over 15 years.
McIntyre turned down offers to become a radio personality because he thought it would lower the high standard he had for the writing in his column. However, the characters profiled in his columns gave Fred Allen the inspiration to create in 1942 the hugely popular "Allen's Alley" segment of his radio show.
McIntyre had a flair for language, coining words and phrases when needed, such as a pianist who could create "go-gollies" at the keyboard. He described his good health "chirky" and his Park Avenue apartment as "a cozy higgledy-piggledy." The "Thingumbobs" section of his column featured such observations as, "Leopold Stokowski likes a midnight hamburger with onions, too."
In 1929, McIntyre described his approach in the preface to Twenty-five Selected Stories, a collection of his articles from Cosmopolitan: "I write from a country town angle of a city's glamour, and the metropolis has never lost its thrill for me. Things the ordinary New Yorker accepts casually are my dish--the telescope man on the curb, the Bowery lodging houses and drifters... speakeasies..." He often wrote with affection about small town life, as in "That Was Happy New Year" (1932):
After McIntyre traveled to London and Paris, he also wrote about those cities. His books include the 1935 bestseller The Big Town.
He died on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1938, of a heart attack at 2 A.M. at his apartment, 290 Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. He left an estate of $72,456 (approximately $1,316,000 today). He was buried in Gallipolis on a high bluff overlooking the Ohio River. where a marble bench bears the tribute "Beloved of a Nation." Maybelle Hope Small McIntyre, who lived to the age of 101, died in a nursing home in Point Pleasant, West Virginia on April 28, 1985.
After McIntyre's death, the newspaper column was continued by editor Charles Benedict Driscoll until 1951. When Driscoll's biography, The Life of O.O. McIntyre (Greystone Press, 1938), was published seven months after McIntyre's death, it made The New York Times bestseller list.
The O.O. McIntyre Park District in Gallipolis is named in his honor. A Gallia County film production about McIntyre was made in 1994 by Edna Pierce Whiteley. The O.O. McIntyre Story: Chronicle of a Journalist of Note is narrated by Whiteley with Earl Tope as the voice of McIntyre. The film is available as a 30-minute videocassette.
The Gallia County Historical/Genealogical Society has more than a dozen three-inch binders on McIntyre.
The annual O.O. McIntyre Postgraduate Writing Fellowship was established in 1986 by the Missouri School of Journalism to help aspiring writers further their careers.