Born Eugene Devlan in Denver, Colorado, Gene Fowler adopted his stepfather's last name when he entered the working world. Young Fowler's first job was as an assistant taxidermist, an assignment that resulted in a lifelong distaste for red meat. After working as a printer's devil in a publishing house, he decided to become a full-time journalist. Anxious to get his career under way, he completed his studies at the University of Colorado in the space of a single year. His first reporting assignment was with the Denver Post, whose colorful founders Bonfils and Tammer were later immortalized in Fowler's biographical book Timber Line. Then it was off to New York, where Fowler secured work at the Daily Mirror, matriculating to promotion manager of King Features, a newspaper syndication service. His experiences with King Features, coupled with his later activities as a public relations agent for such ephemeral celebrities as Queen Marie of Rumania, qualified Fowler as an expert in the field of hucksterism and ballyhoo. Perhaps this was why he was attracted to such larger-than-life cronies as film producer Mack Sennett, Broadway star John Barrymore and comedian W.C. Fields.
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Fowler's literary output included full-length biographies of Sennett (Father Goose), Barrymore (Good Night Sweet Prince), colorful New York mayor Jimmy Walker (Beau James) and flamboyant entertainer Jimmy Durante (Schnozzola). His florid writing style translated quite well to such stage plays as The Great Magoo and The Mighty Barnum, both of which were later filmed by Hollywood. Fowler's screenwriting credits included Call of the Wild (1935) and Billy the Kid (1941); in the latter production, as in most of his writings, Fowler never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Some of Fowler's most celebrated contributions to the movie industry were in the form of anonymous poems and essays, which cruelly, hilariously and accurately exposed the tarnish beneath the Hollywood tinsel; these were mimeographed and passed from hand to hand for decades, and several were published for the first time in Max Wilk's 1971 volume The Wit and Wisdom of Hollywood. Gene Fowler was the father of editor/producer/director Gene Fowler Jr., of I Was a Teenage Werewolf fame. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi