Today is the birthday of Jack Lait (1883-1954). I quoted him in my book No Applause without knowing much about him. I gathered that he was a journalist of some sort, but more specifics weren’t readily available at the time and anyway I was in the midst of vaudeville research. It was a tangent. So I didn’t think much more about him until the day I looked a little more carefully at this item that was tacked to the Countess’s fridge:
So now he got a little more interesting! Lait wore many hats — most of them fedoras. He was a columnist for 20 years (the context from which my quote derives, I believe), editor of the New York Daily Mirror (at a time when it had the 2nd largest circulation in New York), and spent his last years as an executive with the Hearst Corporation. From the teens through the thirties he wrote or co-wrote several Broadway shows, including revues like Rufus LeMaire’s Affairs. He also wrote numerous popular books, including a biography of Will Rogers and numerous crime books, the first of which was Put on the Spot (1930), which became the 1931 film Bad Company.
The “Confidential” books were co-written with Lee Mortimer, an interesting character in his own right. New York Confidential (1948) was made into a 1955 film starring Broderick Crawford, and a TV series in 1958 starring the Countess’s very favorite actor in the world, Mr. Lee Tracy. Chicago Confidential (1951) was also made into a film in 1957. It was followed by Washington Confidential (1951), and U.S.A. Confidential (1952). A planned collaboration with Ray Bradbury called Planet Earth Confidential never panned out. (Gotcha!)