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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WIDDER, MILTON "MILT"

WIDDER, MILTON "MILT"

WIDDER, MILTON "MILT" (20 Nov. 1907-15 Dec. 1985), the paragon of Cleveland's gossip columnists, was born in Berlin, Germany, raised in Hungary, and came to the U.S. with his parents, Adolph and Rosa (Habermann) in 1920. He graduated from Adelbert College. Although he briefly studied law, he began work as a copy boy for the CLEVELAND PRESS in 1926, working various beats for 20 years. In 1946 Widder was assigned to do the Press's gossip column, making his "Sights and Sounds" column into a local institution. Competition among press agents for a "mention" became so intense that Widder needed 2 telephones. A "Halo of the Week" award from Widder was one of the community's highest accolades for meritorious public service. Widder's diet tips were so demanded that the Press reprinted them as the "Milt Widder Diet" and distributed more than a million copies. Widder could find news as well as make it. He was the first in the nation to report the marriage breakup of Howard Hughes and actress Jean Peters. Press editors often killed items from his column because they "scooped" stories planned for the front page. A member of the CITY CLUB OF CLEVELAND for over 40 years, Widder was its president in 1969 and a veteran performer in its ANVIL REVUE. On 20 Nov. 1932 he married Dorothy Louise Stone, who died in 1980. They had 4 children, James, John, Robt. Andrew, and Mrs. Barbara Beazle. Failing vision and health problems forced his retirement in 1972. He died in Cleveland.