Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1004
Bensinger is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He is the owner of the big, ornate desk; later in the play, Williams hides inside of it. Bensinger is a neat freak, a quality that the other reporters constantly violate by leaving garbage all over his desk.
Walter Burns is Hildy’s boss at the paper. Desperate to keep his star reporter, he will go to any lengths to entice Hildy to stay. When he finds out that Hildy is hiding Williams in the press office, Burns helps to keep the convict hidden so that Hildy can get the exclusive story.
Burns is a cold, calculating man; he is willing to break the law to get an edge. When Mrs. Grant realizes the truth about Williams, Burns kidnaps her. When the truth is revealed and Williams is found, Burns is able to talk himself out of trouble.
Although he encourages Hildy to leave with Peggy at the end of The Front Page—he even presents him with his prized pocket watch—he arranges for Hildy to be arrested for stealing the watch.
Diamond Louie is a local thug. He works for Burns as a circulation manager. He helps kidnap Mrs. Grant.
Regarded as inept and slow, Woodenshoes is a police officer. He believes that Williams has a duel personality and that the convict is hiding out with Mollie Malloy. He tries to share his information with the reporters, including Hildy, but they are dismissive.
Endicott is a police reporter for the Post.
Mrs. Grant is Peggy Grant’s mother. She is suspicious of Hildy and his commitment to Peggy. When Hildy does not appear at the train station right away, Mrs. Grant is the one who reveals that Hildy is hiding Williams. Though Hildy convinces the other reporters that she is confused, she eventually sees the convict hiding in the desk.
In order to keep her quiet, Burns has Diamond Louie drive her to a secluded place; en route, there is an auto accident and Hildy fears that she has been hurt. When she returns at the end of the play, Mrs. Grant discloses what has happened to her and Burns is almost charged with kidnapping.
A strong and popular girl, Peggy is engaged to Hildy. Frustrated because he puts his work before their relationship, she constantly asks him to make a true commitment to her. Although Peggy questions if he really loves her, they do leave together at the end of the play. It seems that she has won the battle, if not the war.
Peter B. Hartman
See The Sheriff
Hildy is a star reporter for the Chicago Herald- Examiner. He is ready to leave his job and start a new life when he gets caught up in the story of Earl Williams.
Hildy is engaged to Peggy Grant; later that afternoon, he is supposed to go to New York City with Peggy to get married. After the wedding, Hildy is planning to work at an advertising agency.
Yet before he can leave the pressroom and get on the train, he becomes very involved in the Williams case: he hides the convict in the pressroom; lies to Peggy and her mother; and deceives the other reporters in order to get an exclusive story.
In the end, Hildy realizes that he really does want to marry Peggy and move to New York City. There seems to be some question if he has really left his old life behind or whether he will eventually return to it.
Kruger is a reporter for the Journal of Commerce.
Mollie is a prostitute in love with Williams. She berates the reporters at the beginning of the play because she believes they published lies about her. To protect Williams she jumps out of the window. She survives the fall, but her fate is unclear at the end of the play.
The Mayor is the corrupt leader of Chicago. There is an election in three days and he wants Williams to be executed to improve his chances of being re-elected: Williams murdered a black cop, and he figures his death will ensure many African American votes.
To that end, the Mayor bribes Pincus to not deliver the reprieve. Later in the play, Pincus changes his mind and delivers the reprieve. To save his own skin, the Mayor removes the cuffs from Burns and Hildy and grudgingly implements the reprieve.
McCue is a reporter for the City News Bureau. He is eager and enthusiastic.
Murphy is a police reporter for the Journal. He is cocky and contemptuous towards everyone, except reporters. He physically throws Mollie out of the pressroom when she begins to cry.
Pincus delivers the reprieve for the execution of Earl Williams. When the Mayor offers him a bribe to not deliver the reprieve, Pincus agrees. Later he changes his mind and delivers the reprieve. He exposes the attempted bribery to the reporters.
Schwartz is a police reporter for the Daily News. He is the first to speculate that Williams was hiding in the building.
The Sheriff is the primary law enforcement officer in The Front Page. Not particularly respected, he tries to get along everyone, including the reporters, but his efforts often make him look soft. Because he furnished the gun for the psychological exam, he is also viewed as somewhat inept at his job.
Williams is the cop killer and anarchist in The Front Page. He killed an African-American cop and has been sentenced to die for the crime. He escapes by stealing a gun during a psychological exam; he hides on the roof of the Criminal Courts Building, then in the pressroom. After hiding in a desk for much of the play, his reprieve is finally delivered by the end of the play and his life is spared.
Wilson is a police reporter for the American.
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