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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Broun, Heywood Campbell (1888-1939)
"The pursuit of happiess belongs to us, but we must climb around or over the church to get it."

"Christian ethics are seldom found save in the philosophy of some unbeliever."

-- Heywood Broun


Heywood Campbell Broun was an American journalist, sportswriter and newspaper columnist and editor in New York City. He founded the American Newspaper Guild, now known as The Newspaper Guild.

In 1917 Broun married writer-editor Ruth Hale, a feminist and founder of the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to keep their maiden names after marriage. They had one son, Heywood Hale Broun.

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.

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 1919-1929. 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."

His professional career began writing baseball stories in the sports section of the New York Morning Telegraph. He worked at the New York Tribune from 1912—1921 rising to drama critic before transferring to the New York World (1921–28). It was at the World where his syndicated column, It Seems to Me, began. In 1928 he moved to the Scripps-Howard newspapers, including the New York World-Telegram, where it appeared until he moved it to the New York Post just before his death.

Broun was fairly decent drama critic. However, he once classified 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. However, in the final sentence, he wrote, "Mr. Steyne's performance was not up to its usual standard."

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

He died of pneumonia at age 51 in New York City. More than 3,000 mourners attended his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral. 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).

The Newspaper Guild sponsors an annual Heywood Broun Award for outstanding work by a journalist, especially work that helps correct an injustice.

 
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