Adela Rogers St. Johns Had a Hell of a Time

Adela Rogers St. Johns was proud of the living she did in her 94 years.

She began as a newspaper woman. One of the first in the business. William Randolph Hearst hired her when she was 18. And she fell head over heels for reporting. Would devote her life to putting words on a blank sheet of paper for the world to see.

Ms. St. Johns was the first female journalist on the police beat and in the sports box. She covered the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial, poverty in Los Angeles, politics in Washington. She was a sure-footed storyteller on the page. And she was opinionated and outspoken off the page.

“The World’s Greatest Girl Reporter” became her nickname, even though she was well into her thirties at that point. Later, when she penned celebrity profiles, her nickname was updated to “The Mother Confessor of Hollywood.”

Ms. St. Johns wrote novels, memoirs, some western screenplays, too. But she loved those daily newspaper deadlines. She also loved crème de menthes and baseball games and thought Eleanor Roosevelt was a “stupendous person.”

Her 94 years held their share of hurt. Struggles with alcoholism, she would say, were “the curse of my life.” She married three times and divorced three times. During World War II, her son Ivan was killed.

When she was in her sixties and seventies, Ms. St. John’s face – which was slim and deeply lined – became a popular one on The Tonight Show and talk shows.

Perhaps, another talk show guest once suggested, you might consider a face lift.

To which the opinionated, outspoken Adela Rogers St. Johns replied:

“You may want to present to the world a blank sheet of paper, proving that you’ve written nothing on it in the years you’ve lived…I would rather they could see on my face that I have lived, loved and had one hell of a time, bad and good.

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