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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elias Manchester Boddy (pronounced "Boady"[1]) (November 1, 1891–May 12, 1967) was an American newspaper publisher and political candidate for the Democratic party. Described as “high-voiced, quick-moving, and affable,” he “had a huge estate with electrically-lighted waterfalls in Alta Canyada, Calif., [and was] . . . an efficient horseman, pistol shot and fisherman. “[1]

Contents

Biography

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Early years

Born on November 1, 1891 in Lake Tapps, Washington, Boddy attended Washington State College and the University of Montana.[2] After graduating, he served in varying capacities, as a milker, a miner, a recruiter for the University of Montana, and finally, moving eastwards, as an encyclopedia salesman in New York City, where he persuaded poor families to band together to buy the books. He became sales manager for the Encyclopedia Britannica, evading a ban on book salesmen at Harvard University by hiring students as his agents.[2]

In World War I, Boddy served as a second lieutenant in the infantry. He was gassed in the Argonne, and was sent home as fully disabled. After spending months in a hospital, Boddy resumed his book career, selling volumes of the magazine Current History to those interested in the war. He moved west, founding a book publishing company in Los Angeles, and sold copies of the Mexican Year Book and other books for Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler.[2]

Newspaper career

Boddy was hired as editor of the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News in 1926, a failing newspaper which had originally been founded by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. The following year, with the newspaper bankrupt, he persuaded a stockholder committee and then a federal judge to allow him to take over the newspaper. Within years, it had become immensely profitable with Boddy as editor and publisher.[2]

Boddy assumed ownership of the newspaper on August 5, 1926. The plant was located at Pico Boulevard and Los Angeles Street and was deeply in debt. He rejected Vanderbilt’s editorial philosophy of emphasizing reporting good news in Los Angeles by becoming a crusading newspaper that addressed police corruption, gambling and prostitution. He quickly earned the enmity of Los Angeles Police Chief James E. Davis, who attempted to silence the Daily News by arresting Boddy. Davis used an obscure municipal law that made it illegal to publish horse racing entries and results in a general circulation newspaper. The charges never got beyond the arraignment stage and Boddy continued his paper’s reporting of vice and corruption.[3]

Boddy was a staunch Republican and supported Herbert Hoover in the 1932 Presidential election. He believed the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt was a “terrible mistake.” Still, he recognized that Roosevelt’s New Deal policies had merit and could lift the country out of the Depression. The Daily News was the only Los Angeles newspaper to openly endorse and give balanced coverage of Roosevelt. He also gave considerable coverage of Technocracy,[1] a type of scientific management of society and the economy. He also gave news space to Robert Noble’s “Ham ‘N Eggs” plan and Dr. Francis Townsend’s “Townsend Plan” that required the state and federal governments to issue funds to people over the age of 60. The Daily News also extensively covered Upton Sinclair’s run for California governor and his controversial End Poverty in California (EPIC) campaign. Competing newspapers either ignored the campaign or wrote vehement editorials against Sinclair’s socialist programs.[3]

Boddy’s editorial policies in these early years established the Daily News as the city’s only liberal journalistic voice. After the end of World War II, Boddy’s interest in the newspaper began to wane. His efforts to stimulate interest in various plans to boost the country’s economy and his crusades for noble causes had ended with the war. Los Angeles had become a mecca for jobs and a refuge for new arrivals from the frozen East Coast. Postwar Los Angeles was a more cosmopolitan city and many of Boddy’s editorial policies seemed quaint to the city’s new residents.[3]

Boddy spent less time at the newspaper and focused his energies on Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge. He eventually turned the day-to-day operations over to his general manager, Robert L. Smith. Without Boddy, the newspaper lost its spunk and no longer tilted at windmills. By the fall of 1953, the Daily News was losing $75,000 a month. It folded in December 1954. The Daily News’ assets were purchased by the Times Mirror Co. The Los Angeles Mirror, a Times-owned afternoon tabloid newspaper, took the Daily News name to become the Mirror-News.[3]

Horticultural interest

In 1936, Boddy purchased a 150-acre parcel in La Canada, an area north of Los Angeles. Boddy had a wide range of interests, including horticulture, ranching, plant science, and politics. In 1942, Boddy bought Mission Nursery of San Gabriel — and its stock — from the Yoshimuras, who were interned. Boddy named his estate Rancho de Descanso, which translates as “Ranch of Restfulness (or Repose).” The estate was deeded to Los Angeles County and is nowadays open to the public as Descanso Gardens.

Political interest

For more, see United States Senate election in California, 1950.

In 1950, U.S. Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas challenged Democratic Senator Sheridan Downey for the Democratic senatorial nomination from California. When Downey bowed out of the campaign, citing ill health, Boddy entered the race. California's Democratic State Central Committee had tried to draft Boddy to run for office in previous elections in 1942 and 1946. Boddy refused, claiming he had no interest in public office. For the 1950 Senate race, Boddy offered no specific reasons why he was running for office other than to say it was a "challenge" and he would meet interesting people.[3]

Boddy's campaign got off to a late start and was disorganized. He received an important endorsement from Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron, a Republican, and received strong support from labor unions. His primary campaign theme advocated public ownership of hydroelectric plants across the state. He also supported a controversial proposal to limit land ownership in the Central Valley to 160 acres. His primary weakness was the lack of solid programs to boost California's economy.

Los Angeles Times political reporter Kyle Palmer wrote that "words flow" easily from Boddy, but his late start and lack of political credentials were handicaps to a successful campaign. [3]

Boddy and Douglas ran a bitter campaign, leaving Douglas badly wounded for the race against the winner of the Republican primary, Congressman Richard Nixon. Boddy came up with the idea of comparing Douglas' voting record to that of leftist Congressman Vito Marcantonio of the American Labor Party — a tactic that was seized on by Nixon and his campaign manager, Murray Chotiner in the general election. In May 1950, just weeks before the primary election, Boddy labeled Douglas the "Pink Lady" by implying she was aligned with communists and she was part of a group of "red hots" trying to seize control of Democratic county committees in the state. [3]

On June 6, 1950, Douglas beat Boddy at the polls largely on the strength of her popularity with African-American voters. She garnered 889,000 votes to Boddy's 532,000. Nixon, who had crossed-filed with both parties in the primary, won 1,060,000 votes. Douglas lost to Nixon in the general election [3]

Death

Boddy died on May 12, 1967, in Los Angeles, of congestive heart failure. He was survived by his widow, Bernice, and two sons, Calvin and Robert.[2]

References


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