On this day: Eddie Doherty

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day in 1975, Eddie Doherty died. The headline on his obituary in the New York Times said, "Rev. Edward Doherty, 84, Dead; Star 'Front Page' Era Reporter".

The obituary mentions only a few of the many newspapers he worked for in his long career: "The News, whose trucks and billboards proclaimed him The Star Reporter of America", The Mirror, which "billed him as America's Highest Paid Reporter", and The Chicago Tribune.

Eddie Doherty was born in Chicago in 1890, the oldest of ten children born to Police Lieutenant Edward Doherty and his wife Ellen Rodgers. At the age of 13 he went to try his vocation with the Servites in Wisconsin. After two years he left the seminary, returned to Chicago, and went to work at the City Press. He married his childhood sweetheart in 1914.

Eddie worked at various other Chicago newspapers, including the Examiner, the Record-Herald, the Tribune, the Herald, and the American. It was at the American that he began writing columns. His wife died in the 1918 flu epidemic, leaving Eddie with a baby son. In his sorrow, Eddie Doherty left the Church.

The following summer he married his second wife. Back at the Tribune, he helped establish the Joseph Medill School of Journalism. After a short time at the Tampico, Mexico, Tribune, Eddie Doherty and his wife and two children moved west, Eddie to work for the Chicago Tribune's Hollywood bureau. He "made his reputation initially covering such scandals as the Wally Reid case and the Fatty Arbuckle trial".

After three years Eddie and his wife and children moved to New York where he went to work for Liberty magazine. Over the years, he would write over a thousand articles for Liberty, which was edited by Fulton Oursler. During this time, Eddie began attending Mass again, although he could not receive the sacraments because of his marriage outside the Church.

Click here for a brief history of Liberty magazine. Many old articles from Liberty were reproduced in the 1970s and may be read online, including "Hot Dog" by Eddie Doherty, 1928. For more examples of Liberty's articles, click here.

In 1939, Eddie Doherty's second wife was killed in a fall. He met his third wife.

"This was the Baroness Catherine de Hueck, founder of Friendship House, a social settlement in 135th street, between Fifth and Lenox avenues-a social settlement different than any I had ever stumbled upon in all my hoodlum years.

"Friendship House worked for and with the Negroes. It dispensed charity of all kinds, without asking questions, without hesitation. It fought for interracial justice. It fostered study clubs, credit unions, co-operative associations, and other advanced ideas of self-help for the Negro poor. And it disseminated Catholicity in a thousand ways.

"I became enamored with the place, with the young people who worked under the direction of the Baroness, and with their mode of life. And, eventually, of course, I fell in love with the foundress."

-- CatholicAuthors.com

Eddie Doherty and the Baroness Catherine de Hueck were married in 1943. Friendship House was not happy to see her marry. She stepped down as Director General.

In 1944, Eddie Doherty's screen story for "The Fighting Sullivans" was nominated for an Academy Award. The movie tells the story of the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, who were killed in action when the USS Juneau was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Click here to watch it on YouTube.

The situation at Friendship House continued to deteriorate, and in 1947, the Dohertys moved to Canada where they founded Madonna House. Click here for an account of Catherine Doherty's life, her cause for canonization, and the foundation of Madonna House at Combermere, Ontario.

In 1969, Eddie Doherty transferred from the Latin Rite to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which is in communion with Rome but allows married men to be priests. He was ordained.

Click here for two beautiful articles about Eddie Doherty, one by his son, and one by the Archbishop who ordained him.

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