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Damon Runyon

Damon Runyon courtesy Damon Runyon Cancer Research FoundationAuthor, newspaperman. Born: October 4, 1880, Manhattan, Kansas.   Died: December 10, 1946, New York City.

Harry the Horse, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Sky Masterson, and other such Broadway characters immediately come to mind when one thinks of newspaperman and author Damon Runyon. Yet, although he is indelibly identified with Manhattan, New York, Runyon was actually a westerner, born October 4, 1880 in Manhattan, Kansas.

Runyon's father, A. L. Runyon, served in western Kansas with the 19th Kansas Cavalry in 1868-1869 during a period of conflict between whites and American Indians. At the time of Damon's birth, A. L. was the editor and proprietor of the Manhattan Enterprise, but financial difficulties soon prompted the family's move to Clay Center and then to Wellington. By 1887 his mother's illness made another move seem advisable, and the Runyons left Kansas and settled in Pueblo, Colorado.

Following service in the Spanish-American War, Runyon served as a reporter with the Pueblo Chieftain, moving on later to newspapers in Denver. In 1911 he joined the William Randolph Hearst organization as a staff writer on the New York American, and was associated with Hearst enterprises for the rest of his life.

Noted as a sports writer and columnist, Runyon also wrote numerous short stories, some of which were included in the book, Guys and Dolls, later a successful Broadway musical and a movie.

Today the Damon Runyon Memorial Fund for Cancer Research, founded by his friends after his death in 1946, serves as a lasting tribute to this popular and well-known figure. Runyon Field, the Damon Runyon Repertory Theater Company, and Runyon Lake, named for him, are located in Pueblo.

Entry: Runyon, Damon

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2004

Date Modified: January 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.