Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams (November 15, 1881 – March 23, 1960) was an American columnist known as Franklin P. Adams and by his initials F.P.A.. Famed for his wit, he is best known for his newspaper column, "The Conning Tower", and his appearances as a regular panelist on radio's Information Please. A prolific writer of light verse, he was a member of the Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s and 1930s.
One of the most popular, widely read newspaper columnists of his generation, Franklin Pierce Adams was known for his wit and humorous writing style. He was known to his readers as ‘F.P.A’. He authored the column, ‘The Conning Tower’, a satirical column that became immensely popular with readers. He began his career in journalism with the 'Chicago Journal' and later wrote for 'New York Evening Mail', where he contributed for the column ‘Always in Good Humor’. One of his best-known works for the New York Evening Mail was the 'Baseball's Sad Lexicon', a poem on baseball. In a career spanning more than forty years as a successful daily columnist in a New York newspaper, Pierce Adams had the prolific writing skills that amused a large audience. He managed to create a name for himself and became well acquainted with everyone in the literary world. He also served in the military intelligence wing of the U.S Army during the World War I, during which time he also simultaneously authored a column for a newspaper.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Franklin Leopold Adams in Chicago, Illinois, USA to Moses and Clara Schlossberg Adams. His middle name was changed to ‘Pierce’ at the age of 13, after a Jewish confirmation ceremony.
In 1899, he graduated from the Armour Scientific Academy and later enrolled at the University of Michigan, which he attended for a year. He also worked in the insurance industry for three years.
- In 1903, he began his career in the field of journalism with 'Chicago Journal ', for which he authored sports columns and a humour column titled, ‘A Little about Everything'.
- In 1904, he began to work with the 'New York Evening Mail'. There he had his own column titled, ‘Always in Good Humor’, which also took in contributions from its readers.
- In 1910, he wrote 'Baseball's Sad Lexicon', a poem on baseball, written from the viewpoint of a New York Giants fan for the 'New York Evening Mail'. This is regarded as one of best known works.
- In 1911, he came out with another column for the ‘New York Evening Mail'. The column was a parody of English politician Samuel Pepys's Diary and had notes that were taken from Pierce’s personal experiences.
- In 1913, he quit his job at the ‘New York Evening Mail'. The following year, he worked with the ‘New-York Tribune’, where he authored the famous column titled, ‘The Conning Tower’.
- At the time of World War I, he served in the military intelligence wing of the U.S Army, while at the same time he also authored the column titled, ‘The Listening Post’ for the editor of the newspaper, 'Stars and Stripes'.
- After the end of World War I, he returned to New York and resumed his job with the ‘New-York Tribune’. In 1922, he began to work with the 'New York World', where his column appeared for the next few years.
- In the 1920s and 1930s, he became a member of the 'Algonquin Round Table', a highly praised and intellectual group of writers, actors, critics in New York City. The group members had a good reputation in the New York literary circles.
- He later moved to the 'New York Herald Tribune', continuing to work there until 1937, after which he moved to the New York Post, where he wrote his last column in September 1941.
- In 1938, he became a panelist on NBC Radio's 'Information Please', which was a radio quiz show. He was designated as an expert on poetry, old barroom songs and Gilbert and Sullivan.
- He has also authored many books such a, 'In Cupid's Court', 'Tobogganning on Parnassus', 'In Other Words' and ‘Answer This One’.
Personal Life & Legacy
- In 1904, he married his first wife, Minna Schwartze. He later married Esther Sayles Root in 1925.
- He died on March 23, 1960, New York City, United States
- A two volume book titled, 'The Diary of Our Own Samuel Pepys' was published by Simon and Schuster. The book was a collection of his newspaper columns.
- Published in 1936, the book titled, ‘The Melancholy Lute' had a selection of his works across three decades.
- In 1994, he was portrayed in the American film titled, 'Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle', which was directed by Alan Rudolph. In the film his character was portrayed by actor Chip Zien.
Popularly known as F.P. A., he was the quick witted American columnist known for his column, The Conning Tower in New York Tribune.