Call Me Daddy: Edward West Browning's Antics in Jazz-Age New York
Taught by Ben Feldman
Benjamin Feldman has lived and worked in New York City for the past forty-four years. His essays and book reviews about New York City and American history and about Yiddish culture have appeared on-line and in print in CUNY’s Gotham History Blotter, The New Partisan Review, Ducts literary magazine, and in his blog, The New York Wanderer, which appears at www.newyorkwanderer.com. Ben’s first book, Butchery on Bond Street – Sexual Politics and the Burdell-Cunningham Case in Ante-bellum New York, appeared in May, 2007, about an infamous unsolved murder case from the 19th century, which, in the words of The New Yorker, is told by the author "like a gaslight-era episode of "Law & Order."
His second book, Call Me Daddy - Babes and Bathos in Edward West Browning’s Jazz-Age New York, appeared in June, 2009. The retelling of a notorious tabloid scandal "captures in delicious fashion the philandering real estate magnate in all his buffoonery" according to Sam Roberts in The New York Times.
Feldman’s ongoing projects involve a biographical work about Henry Knight Dyer, the first non-family member to be president of the Dennison Manufacturing Company, a biography in the works about William Niblo, the pre-eminent theater promoter of mid-19th century New York, and an investigation into the life of an early 20th century New York City Jewish saloon-keeper named Sol Goldberg, whose efforts to forestall economic ruin at the advent of Prohibition ended up as a Broadway show.
In a fun and informative presentation, author Benjamin Feldman will tell all about America’s “Daddy” of the mid-1920s, Edward West Browning.
Mr. Browning’s antics fascinated New York and the entire country as he invited the newborn tabloid newspapers to follow him chasing underage young women in his peacock blue Rolls Royce, with the District Attorney and New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in hot pursuit. In 1926 Mr. Browning met the girl of his dreams--15-year-old “Peaches” Heenan. Within a dozen weeks they were married, and six months after that they began a legal battle for separation that turned their tempestuous drama into a national scandal.
Body-builder, raw food devotee and publicity-hound, the self-styled “Daddy” Mr. Browning prefigured a delicious combination of Donald Trump and Michael Jackson in his taste for high living and scandalous behavior. Damon Runyon, who called Browning a “gallus old codger” led the nation’s thousands of scribes in poking fun at the publicity-hungry Manhattan millionaire. A man for our times, Mr. Browning’s rise and fall followed the Dow Jones average in America’s rollicking “Era of Wonderful Nonsense."