An American journalist and humorist, he is known for Low Man on a Totem Pole, a World War II-era bestselling humor book. He published his autobiography, To Hell in a Handbasket, in 1962.
He dropped out of high school and began working for the Huntington Press in the early 1920s. He later worked as a feature writer for the New York World-Telegram.
He claimed to have taken the first legal drink once Prohibition was repealed.
He was born in Illinois and was raised in Ohio and Indiana. In 1927, he married Nelle Mae Simpson.
He and Michael Herr both wrote for Esquire magazine.