In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles author and playwright J. P. McEvoy.
(To Mrs. McEvoy On The Occasion of Her Son’s Birth.)
I hear that Dame Fortune has been kindly
And blessed you with a boy so fine
And given you something to be proud of
In future years when you sit by a lonesome pine.
May he grow up to be healthy and sturdy
And good to his mother and true,
And be loved by countless millions
As he is loved by YOU.
His first piece of writing appeared in the South Bend News. He inserted a job-wanted advertisement.
For some unknown reason he is afraid to enter a laundry.
Lives at Woodstock, N. Y. Is the proud possessor of two blessed events and a St. Bernard dog. The two children are now attending school in California. The dog, dying of loneliness, is to be shipped there next week.
The only jewelry he wears is a black opal ring. Wears this because everyone says it is unlucky.
Is very fond of people who resemble him.
He saves unused return postal cards.
Never actually writes a play or story. He dictates everything. Always has two secretaries working. Never revises any of his manuscripts. Show Girl has fourteen chapters. It was dictated at fourteen settings.
He is unable to part his hair.
Believes there should be a law against bed makers who never tuck in the sheets at the foot of the bed.
As far as comedians go he starts laughing if he’s in the same city as Jimmy Durante.
Always buys two copies of a book. One to read and one to lend.
His full name is Joseph Patrick McEvoy. His mother name him Joseph. His father named him Patrick. Not caring for either, he became J. P. McEvoy.
He has a picture of his wife in every room.
Still receives royalties on some of the greeting cards he wrote. His favorite is the following:
Eve had no Xmas
Neither did Adam.
Never had socks,
Nobody had ’em.
Never got cards,
Take this and have it
On Adam, old kid.
He was once an amateur wrestler. Gave it up because he didn’t like being on the floor.
He hates to see people in wet bathing suits.
His first book to be published was a volume of poetry titled Slams of Life. He has the names of those who bought it. Two more sales and he could have formed a club.
Smokes a cigar from the moment he turns off the shower in the morning until he puts on his pajamas at night.
His pet aversions are women’s elbows, chocolate candy all melted together, fishing stories, fishermen, fish, Laugh, Clown, Laugh; radio talks on how to make hens lay, buying new shoes, mixed quartets, Laugh, Clown, Laugh; runs in silk stockings, three-piece orchestras, waiters who breathe down his neck and Laugh, Clown, Laugh.
When in New York he puts up at the Algonquin. If working on a story or play he and his wife occupy separate rooms.
His first writing for the stage was a vaudeville sketch. Out of the Dark, written with John V. A. Weaver. It played only two performances in a four-a-day vaudeville house.
His favorite composers are Tschaikovsky, and George Gershwin. His favorite conductors are Toscanini and Frank Kennedy of the Fifth Avenue bus line.
Has two mottoes. One for the home and one for the office. The motto hanging in his house is: “Let No Guilty Dollar Escape.” The motto hanging in his office is: “Watch Your Hat and Coat.”
Dislikes all the Hungarian Rhapsodies from number one to twelve.
His idea of a grand time is hearing Paul Robeson sing anything, going to Havana, being petted by any brunette not over five feet five, depositing royalty checks from Simon & Schuster, throwing pebbles into a lake, reading anything by James Stephens, eating kalteraufschnitt mit kartoffelsalat and attending a Chinese theater with a Chinaman.
He once got sick eating a sandwich that was named after him.
After he quit running a column in the Chicago Tribune the circulation of the Tribune dropped from forty thousand to a million.