Richard Gehman

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Richard Boyd Gehman (May 20, 1921 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania- died May 12, 1972 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania) was an American author of more than 3,000 magazine articles (including over 400 features), five novels and 15 nonfiction books.[1] Gehman also wrote under many different pen names, including Meghan Richards, Frederick Christian, Martin Scott, Michael Robinson and F.C. Uffelman.[2]

Biography[edit]

Gehman attended McCaskey High School in Lancaster and worked on several daily newspapers in Lancaster before joining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II, serving four years as a writer for The Oak Ridge Times in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After the war he moved to Greenwich Village in New York City and began freelancing for Esquire, Life, Time, Cosmopolitan, Colliers, Argosy, True, Saga and Good Housekeeping magazines. Gehman was an original Contributing Editor at Playboy.

Gehman's circle of friends included many well-known American writers and editors including Maurice Zolotow, Eli Waldron, Booton Herndon, Geoffrey Bocca, Morton Thompson and Anthony Hecht.

Maurice Zolotow once claimed that Gehman wrote an entire issue of Cosmopolitan using more than a dozen different pen names; the truth is that Gehman wrote two or three of the principal articles for one issue, each under a different name, plus a record review under the name “Meghan Richards,” and possibly one other regular column. In those days Cosmopolitan used a graphic, diagonal cover banner to highlight special features. Cosmopolitan's editors had a mock-up cover made whose banner bore the legend: "The All Richard Gehman Issue."

Mark Evanier describes Gehman as "a prominent author of his day, specializing in celebrity profiles. He often got access to follow stars around for a few weeks so he could interview them extensively and report on what he observed...." [3]

Gehman married five times. His third wife was Academy Award Winning actress Estelle Parsons from 1953 to 1958, and his fourth wife, Betsy Holland Gehman, wrote Twins: Twice the Trouble, Twice the Fun. Gehman fathered at least nine children, including actress Martha Gehman; magazine writer, poet, and belly dancer Pleasant Gehman; prizewinning novelist Christian Gehman, and Eddie Gehman Kohan, who is founding editor of the digital archive of food and agriculture for the Obama presidency, Obama Foodorama.

Along with several other bonvivants, Gehman was a "shadow member" of "The Rat Pack." Gehman appeared as himself in the Jerry Lewis movie The Patsy.

Selected works:

  • Sardi's: The Story of a Famous Restaurant (1953)
  • A Murder in Paradise (1954)
  • Eddie Condon's Treasury of Jazz (with Eddie Condon) (1957)
  • How to Write and Sell Magazine Articles (1959)
  • Let My Heart be Broken: With the Things that Break the Heart of God (1960)
  • The Best From Cosmopolitan (editor) (1961)
  • Sinatra and his Rat Pack (1961)
  • The Tall American: The Story of Gary Cooper (1963)
  • That Kid: The Story of Jerry Lewis (1964)
  • Bogart: An Intimate Biography (1965)
  • A Hell of a Life with Harry Richman (1966)
  • The Haphazard Gourmet (1966)
  • The Sausage Book (1969)
  • The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West - introduction to Modern Library Edition (1950)
  • In The Soup, In A Stew (unpublished)
  • Playboy's Playboy: An Intimate Biography of Hugh Hefner (unpublished)

Novels:

  • A Party at the Buchanan Club (1950)
  • Each Life to Live (1952)
  • The Slander of Witches (1955)
  • Driven (1960)
  • The Had (1966)

Musical Comedy:

  • By Hex (1956) (with Howard Blankman and John Rengier)

Gehman taught writing at:

In the early 1960s Gehman was hired by TV Guide magazine, for which he wrote many articles focused on celebrities. Gehman believed that creative people were often emotionally insecure because of an unhappy childhood, and that those who became celebrities in the entertainment industry sometimes did so because their insecurity motivated them to succeed.[4] By the late 1960s, however, demand for his writing had waned considerably as the flow of advertising revenue shifted from magazines to network television, and, by the early 1970s, had disappeared altogether. His last years were spent at his parents' home in Lancaster, and in Quarryville, PA, where he lived with Marianne. He died on May 12, 1972, of a heart attack and alcohol withdrawal, in Lancaster.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Gehman Papers at Millersville University
  2. ^ Richard Gehman Papers at Shadek-Fackenthal Library, Franklin and Marshall College
  3. ^ Read More About It
  4. ^ p.33 Altschuler, Glenn C. & Grossvogel, David I. Changing Channels: America in TV Guide 199 University of Illinois Press