Damon Runyon

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Damon Runyon

“You can become a winner only by walking over the edge.” – Damon Runyon

Damon Runyon (1884-1946), journalist and author, was born in Kansas and raised in Pueblo, Colorado.  It was there that he began his writing career under his father, but he moved to New York City in 1910 to write as a sports columnist for the New York American. His influence as a sports journalist won him entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1967) and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest award given by the Baseball Writers Association of America. 

While he was making headway in the world of sports journalism, Runyon continued to write short stories and essays and frequently stayed at the hotel. The urban surroundings and vibrant personages of the Big Apple inspired his ‘runyonesque’ style, which became notable for its humorous incorporation of slang culled from the seedy underbelly of post-Prohibition Manhattan and Brooklyn.  His fictional characters were denizens of this world: gangsters, gamblers, boxers, actors, and their girlfriends, or “dolls.”  Their vibrant personalities translated wonderfully to film and theatre, most notably inspiring the hit Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.

Runyon died of throat cancer in 1946, but his idiomatic stylizations continued posthumously in “The Damon Runyon Theatre Hour,” a Golden Age radio broadcast that ran from 1947-49.  The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation still exists in his memory.

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