Damon Runyon - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Stories about Damon Runyon

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Picture of Damon Runyon, author of Guys and Dolls; playwright / dramatist; twentieth century American Literature and drama
Damon Runyon   (1884 - 1946)
Category:  American Literature
Born:  October 4, 1884
Manhattan, Kansas, United States
Died:  December 10, 1946
New York City, New York, United States
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Damon Runyon - LIFE STORIES
12/18/1946     Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls
On this day in 1946, Damon Runyon's ashes were scattered over Broadway by his son, from a plane flown by Eddie Rickenbacker. Runyon arrived in New York at the age of thirty to be a sportswriter; it was on Broadway that he and his characters -- Harry the Horse, the Lemon Drop Kid, Last Card Louie -- tested Runyon's crapshoot worldview: "All of life is six to five against."
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Best of Damon Runyon
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Damon Runyon: A Life
by Jimmy Breslin
The World of Damon Runyon
by Tom Clark
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Damon Runyon's Broadway
A 1961 press release briefly explores life in the 1930s on Broadway -- the setting for the film "Pocketful of Miracles."

"Runyon was a journalist in the Thirties, and he saw it all -- bootleggers, horse players, goldfish swallowers and high society dandies at play. ... Veteran movie-maker Frank Capra once dubbed Damon Runyon "Creator of the American Fairy Tale" -- the man who mixed magic with real-life on the Great White Way. There's magic in the fantastic names he gave his Broadway characters -- Madame La Gimp, Harry the Horse, Sam the Gonoph. There's magic in the hearts of gold he found under rough-tough exteriors...and in the hilarious comedy plots that always included a tug at the heartstrings."
Review: Broadway Boogie Woogie
Find a short review of the 2003 biography by Daniel Schwarz about Runyon and the writer's influence on popular culture, from "Guys and Dolls" to "The Sopranos."

"Runyon was among the first to 'stylize both the language and the behavior of gangsters and depict them as another part of the socio-eonomic system, showing how the underworld provided clients with gambling, sex and hard-to-get sports tickets and, during Prohibition, with liquor,' said Schwarz. He asserts that Americans' continuing interest in archetypes we now call 'Runyonesque' can be seen in the popularity of Mario Puzo's gangster novels, Francis Ford Coppola's 'Godfather' movies, Martin Scorsese's 'Goodfellas' and 'Gangs of New York,' and Barry Levinson's 'Bugsy,' in addition to 'The Sopranos.' Schwarz also claims that Runyon's flamboyant street characters, with their aggressive one-line retorts, have shaped people's image of New York City and directly influenced such television programs as 'Seinfeld' and 'Sex and the City' as well as such Woody Allen movies as 'Broadway Danny Rose,' which, Schwarz writes, "pays specific homage to Runyon's world, where respectability and the demi-monde rub shoulders.'"
The Denver Press Club
Find a biography which chronicles the journalist's life and career, presented in 5 sections: "Early Runyon," "The Denver Years," "Runyon in New York," "The Man Who Invented Broadway," and "Epilogue."

"As the twentieth century's second decade began, Runyon knew that his life of liquor and debauchery was taking a toll. He needed to put it behind him. Encouraged by Charley Van Loan, a friend from Denver who had become a successful writer in New York, Al Runyon left the Rocky in the Fall of 1910 and headed east to start a new, more temperate life. Through the good offices of his former colleague at the Denver Post, he found a position as a sportswriter with The New York American, a Hearst paper in New York City. It was a move that would augur well for the man who would eventually remake the city in the minds of America through his vivid accounts of the shady characters who haunted its streets, arenas, racetracks and speakeasies. ... As he pursued tales of the characters who inhabited the sports world, he was inevitably led to the nightclubs, betting parlors and other favorite hangouts they frequented. Runyon faintly disguised the identities of the subjects to protect the guilty, and this discretion earned him the trust of many a character who would otherwise have been upset 'more than somewhat' to see themselves portrayed in the press."
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March 17, 2018
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