Born of immigrant parents—his father was a concert pianist—Paul William Gallico (GAL-ih-koh) turned from a musical career to work his way through Columbia University as a longshoreman, gym instructor, and translator. He served as a gunner in World War I and as a war correspondent for magazines in World War II. He lived much of his life in England, Mexico, Liechtenstein, Paris, and Monaco but retained his American citizenship and considered himself an American writer.
Sports dominated his life. From a position as a film reviewer with the National Board of Motion Picture Review, he moved to covering sports for the New York Daily News (1924-1936), where he became a respected sports editor, columnist, and, finally, assistant managing editor. His investigative reporting of abuses in sports led to reforms, and he began the Golden Gloves boxing tournament for matched amateurs. A big man and an athlete himself, Gallico climbed into the ring with Jack Dempsey once and was knocked out after two minutes. This led to his challenging other sport professionals—Dizzy Dean and Johnny Weismuller among them—in three dozen different sports. He raced cars, boats, and airplanes. His tribute to baseball came in his biography of Lou Gehrig, which he transformed into the screenplay Pride of the Yankees. The film received an Academy Award nomination in 1942. His lifelong love of sports continued even into his seventies, when he was the fencing master to the French army.
In 1936 Gallico retired from the New York Daily News, declaring that he had written enough short stories and fiction to...
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