Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler

Jim Tully
Jim Tully
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Kent State Univ Pr; 1 New edition (April 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606350765
ISBN-13: 978-1606350768

Co-authored by Paul Bauer

The first biography of the vagabond and hard-boiled writer who rocked Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties.

The son of an Irish ditch-digger, Jim Tully (1886-1947) left his hometown of St. Marys, Ohio, in 1901, spending most of his teenage years in the company of hoboes. Drifting across the country as a “road kid,” he spent those years scrambling into boxcars, sleeping in hobo jungles, avoiding railroad cops, begging meals from back doors, and haunting public libraries. After six years on the road, he jumped off a railroad car in Kent, Ohio, with wild aspirations of becoming a writer. While chasing his dream, Tully worked as a chain maker, boxer, newspaper reporter, and tree surgeon. All the while he was crafting his memories of the road into a dark and astonishing chronicle of the American underclass.

After moving to Hollywood and working for Charlie Chaplin, Tully began to write a stream of critically acclaimed books mostly about his road years, including Beggars of Life, Circus Parade, Blood on the Moon, Shadows of Men, and Shanty Irish. He quickly established himself as a major American author and used his status to launch a parallel career as a Hollywood journalist. Much as his gritty books shocked the country, his magazine articles on movies shocked Hollywood. Along the way, he picked up such close friends as W. C. Fields, Jack Dempsey, Damon Runyon, Lon Chaney, Frank Capra, and Erich von Stroheim. He also memorably crossed paths with Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, and Langston Hughes.

Sure to be the definitive biography for decades to come, Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler compellingly describes the hardscrabble life of an Irish American storyteller, from his immigrant roots, rural upbringing, and life as a hobo riding the rails to the emergent dream factory of early and Golden Age Hollywood and the fall of his fortunes during the Great Depression.

Many saw the dark side of the American dream, but none wrote about it like Jim Tully.

Aspiring authors need to read this book and so should you.

This is the best biography you will ever read about a man you've never heard of. Jim Tully's life was pure American. The grandson of an Irish immigrant, he was born and raised poor in the Midwest. He experienced the brutality and character of America firsthand, yet rose to unexpected heights and ended up in Hollywood. But you've never heard of him and that's because there is more to the story. Meticulously researched, well written, captivating. A lot of people will appreciate this book, especially biography fans. But if you're an aspiring author, you need to read this book about Jim Tully. I'd never heard of him and met the authors by chance, who told me they'd rather people read Tully's original work than this book, but I suggest you do both. It's time and money well spent.

May 20, 2015

I thought the author did an excellent job of chronicling the life of Jim Tully

I thought the author did an excellent job of chronicling the life of Jim Tully, whose real-life adventures are more interesting than many stories of fiction. I wonder if his blue-collar background prejudiced many literary critics regarding his writings.

May 20, 2015

Excellent book about a largely-forgotten author

Tully was unique and interesting. While he is largely forgotten today he was a powerful force in his day. I did not realize the extent of his fame nor the fact that he ran with the Hollywood set. It is fascinating.

J. Williams May 20, 2015

Author: Mark Dawidziak

Mark Dawidziak is the author or editor of about 25 books, including three studies of landmark television series: The Columbo Phile: A Casebook, The Night Stalker Companion and Everything I Need to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone, his lighthearted 2017 tribute to Rod Serling’s classic anthology series. He also is an internationally recognized Mark Twain scholar, and five of his books are about the iconic American writer. He spent 43 years as a television, film and theater critic at such newspapers as the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work on the horror side of the street also includes the novel Grave Secrets, The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula, short stories, and comic book scripts. He lives in Ohio.