Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peaches & Daddy A Story of the Roaring 20s, The Birth of Tabloid Media, & The Courtship That Captured The Heart And Imagination of The American Public by Michael M. Greenburg

This is a book I waited years for, hoping that someone would write a good, book length account of one of my favorite scandals of the 1920s. If you've never heard of Peaches and Daddy, I think you’re going to get a kick out of this audacious pair, and maybe even want to travel back in time and kick them too.

In 1926 fifty-one-year-old millionaire Edward “Daddy” West Browning met fifteen-year-old Frances “Peaches” Heenan at a high school dance he was sponsoring at a prestigious New York hotel. Thirty-seven days later they were married to the horror of Child Protective Services. It was love at first sight according to the smitten millionaire.

Throughout their whirlwind courtship, during which the child-bride spent an average of $1,000 (in 1920s currency) a day in New York department stores, newspapermen and photographers were right in step with them.  Daddy and Peaches courted the media as well as each other and were always happy to pose with each other and their pet African honking gander and provide plenty of photo opportunities. The public could not get enough of them. And ten months later, when Peaches, claiming to be a nervous wreck, and to have discovered the hard way that money isn't everything, was seeking a separation from Daddy and a generous settlement, every lurid and titillating detail was splashed across the front pages.

This wonderful, engrossing and entertaining book, recounts the whole mad, bizarre, and fantastic saga of Peaches and Daddy from start to end. It’s also a great book for those interested in the history of tabloid journalism. The press of the day even put together faked photos, with the heads of Peaches and Daddy pasted on, to illustrate some of their stories. It’s also a great book for those who enjoy reading about the 1920s or scandals of the past that have been forgotten but were once front page news.

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