What Are Some Facts About Damon Runyon?

Damon Runyon was an American short story writer and journalist whose full name was Alfred Damon Runyon. He was born in Manhattan, Kansas, on October 4, 1884, and died in New York City on December 10, 1956. He is best known for his collection of short stories about NYC's Broadway theatre district's ne'er-do-wells, titled "Guys and Dolls," which was published in 1931.

One of the stories in "Guys and Dolls" is the source for the wildly successful musical of the same name, which was later adapted into a film starring Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. The main characters in the story collection are not the people at the top of the Broadway hierarchy, such as the stars, directors, writers and producers, but are those more toward the bottom: gangsters, bookies, second-rate promoters and street folk.

Runyon's other story collection, "Take It Easy," was published in 1938. In 1935, he co-wrote a farce titled "A Slight Case of Murder." Some of Runyon's major characters that readers came to know well and who were characterized through hyperbolic representations of street idiom were Joe the Joker, Regret the Horseplayer and Apple Annie.

Before he became well-known, Runyon enlisted in the Army and served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Afterward, he worked as sportswriter and political feature journalist for newspapers in the West before moving to New York in 1911.