Obituary: Noel Whitcomb
Wednesday 04 August 1993
NOEL WHITCOMB, the journalist and founder of the Daily Mirror Punters' Club, was an ever smiling, immaculately turned out figure, with top hat set at a jaunty angle, radiating old- fashioned charm and manners.
Born on Christmas Day 1918 to a journalist on the Economist and an Irish mother, Noel Whitcomb was educated by the Jesuits at Farnham. His wartime service in the Royal Artillery was curtailed by a tubercular lung, and he worked for a film trade magazine the Daily Renter before joining the Daily Mirror as a young reporter with a brief to find off-beat stories. Almost fairy-tale overnight stardom followed his discovery, splashed on the Mirror's front and back pages, of a talking Jack Russell terrier, and by 1947 he had his own column, 'Looking at the Lousy World and Seeing the Funny Side'.
Ever a snappy dresser, who revelled in bohemian society and friendship with such as Dylan Thomas and Augustus John, Whitcomb had by 1953 a full-page column and another on London's night life. The Mirror flamboyantly made the most of Whitcomb's popularity, which undoubtedly increased circulation.
Whitcomb sometimes pined for a theatrical career, for which he could well have been designed, but found great satisfaction in the Turf, first as an owner and then as Founder President of the immensely successful Daily Mirror Punters' Club. He was a lucky owner who enjoyed every minute of it. His best horses were Heidelberg, winner on the flat over hurdles and fences; Even Up, who won 14 races; Royal Fanfare, a prolific winner in England, France and Spain; and Mirror Boy, who achieved the ultimate triumph for Whitcomb, the Punters' Club and their paper by winning their own Andy Capp Handicap in 1980. Whitcomb invested wisely and was not unduly worried about leaving the Mirror in 1980 when its new owner, Robert Maxwell, objected to his expense account, which was enormous even by the then Mirror standards - although surely justified by results.
In his autobiography, A Particular Kind of Fool (1990), Whitcomb described the paper's post-war readers as 'three generations of tabloid fodder'. The title was derived from a quotation from his hero Evelyn Waugh, 'Most fools can get a book published, but it takes a particular kind of fool to hold down a job on a daily newspaper.
- 1 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 This crazy skiing video will leave you feeling queasy
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Mother of newborn Baby No 59 trapped in sewer pipe told Chinese police she 'heard crying' when she raised alarm
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
AirAsia QZ8501: Black box reveals warning alarms 'screamed' before crash, as more bodies recovered from near fuselage of jet
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...
£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...