Friday, June 17, 2011

The 'Fictional' Hildy Johnson?

One of my movie heroes is Hildy Johnson, the aggressive reporter in the play The Front Page and three movie versions. The best of the movies was His Girl Friday, in which he was portrayed as a woman named, again, Hildy Johnson. On Broadway he was played by the legendary Lee Tracy.

Hildy Johnson was not just a movie reporter but the real thing -- and "Hildy Johnson" (Hildy is short for Hilding) was his real name. He was a court reporter for the Chicago Herald-Examiner in the 1920s, just as in the play and films. Here's his obituary.

So I was surprised that Michael Kinsley, a journalist I greatly admire, said in the New York Times today that he was a fictional character. Sure, The Front Page is fictional, but Hildy Johnson was the real thing.

Hey, we all make mistakes - I do pretty much every day, in everything I write, including probably this item - but one of the many Walter Burnses at the Times should have caught that.

While we're on the subject of the Times, can someone please tell me the location of Lehman High School, whose athletic field is the subject of a page one story today? I've noticed that the paper sometimes omits specific locations in articles about the outer boroughs, and it's annoying.

© 2011 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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