THE LAUGHING WALLFLOWER

Part Two: Beauty, Money, Marriage—Alimony, Trouble, Court


Monday, Jul. 23, 1923 Time Magazine

Sued for separation. Courtland H. Young, 48, publisher of Young's Magazine, Breezy Stories, The Yellow Book, Droll Stories, by Mrs. Dorothea Rosabelle Young, 21. She charged cruelty and habitual intoxication.

As in the above blurb, the press decided to focus upon the age difference between Courtland and Dorothea. Mrs. Young is often portrayed as a gold digger and Courtland as a lecherous drunk. Given somewhat short shrift were the serious and largely un-refuted charges Dorothea filed in separation, child custody and divorce proceedings.Dorothea claimed that Courtland was often drunk ‘for days’ out of each week.At one point she stated that he made $150,000 per year, but must have been working only part time since he never seemed to be fully sober. Beyond beating her frequently, Dorothea charged that Courtland had, on three occasions, shot at her. Making matters worse, the Youngs had an infant daughter in the household. It was for the protection of this child that Mrs. Young had fled.

Courtland Young’s subsequent behavior would not help his cause.

Mrs. Courtland Young holds tight her baby, "Rosebud," whom her husband tried lo take from her, according to her charges in a New York court. She once was Dorothy Campbell, Follies beauty. She married Young, amagazine publisher, in 192O. They separated in 1923, and she received a large alimony allowance from her wealthy spouse. It later was stopped. Now she says Young came to her small apartment and attempted to take their little daughter. The affair reached court when neighbors had called the police.

Courtland Young is a wealthy publisher, being publisher of Young's Magazine since 1899; Breezy Stories since 1915; Yellow Book since 1910 and Droll Stories since 1917

(Left picture from International Newsreel as presented in The Light of San Antonio, a newspaper. Story from page one of the Helena Montana Independent July 24, 1924. Right picture by either Associated Press or Newspaper Enterprise Association. Taken from page one of the Helena Montana Independent.)

In the end, it seems they let Courtland out of jail once he had cooled off. His being acquitted of the charges did not make nationwide front page news.

The charge of disorderly conduct preferred against Cortland H. Young, magazine publisher, by his wife, Dorothea Campbell Young, was dismissed in West Side court Wednesday. Counsel for Young proved to the satisfaction of the magistrate that custody of the couple's three-year-old daughter whom Young is alleged to have attempted to kidnap from his wife's apartment, had never been legally decided.(San Antonio Express page seven July 24, 1924)

Perhaps it lacked the proper visual. Unfortunately for Courtland Young, Dorothea was, if nothing else, visual. Coverage of the battles between the Youngs would be rather one-sided.

Dorothea Campbell Young

Friendly press coverage was one of the few weapons available to her. Dorothea Young was in a legal fight with one of the wealthiest men in New York. Courtland Young had an army of lawyers and investigators on her full time. Who would have thought that such a young, uneducated woman would be clever enough to even up the odds?

Perhaps Mr. Young should have read his own magazines.

Courtland Young’s countercharges against Dorothea were the same sort of besides the point gibberish he had trotted out during the Porter affair. All of them amounted to unsubstantiated character slams against Dorothea’s ‘Broadway Friends’ and his ‘Liberated’ Mother In Law. Either Courtland Young had very poor legal and/or public relations advice or, more likely, he simply chose not to listen to it. In my opinion, he seems to have suffered from the Elvis Syndrome: everyone important in his life owed their livelihoods to him. No one could tell him no. Being a self-made man does have its down side.

Not that Dorothea comes off as much of a whiz kid, either.During testimony at the divorce trial, she seems to have coined a dingbat catch phrase.

There are times when it is proper for a woman to keep her hat on while on the witness stand.Mrs. Courtland Young, testifying in the divorce proceedings brought by her husband, explained: I’msorry, I've just been to the hairdresser's for a shampoo and I can't do a thing with it. Justice Collllo gracefully accepted the inevitable. (Amarillo Globe December 17, 1925)

The battling Youngs were nationwide headline news for years. She filed for separation. He filed for divorce. They both filed for sole custody of Rosebud. And then there were the stunts. The highlight of the whole affair happened in 1924, during the first of several custody battles.

Unfortunately, it was this incident which gained the most coverage:

While the witnesses waited and watched each other with hostile eyes and the stern Judge studied the determined face of the father and the distressed face of the mother, the baby pattered down the aisle. Gurgling with glee, she opened a woman's vanity case. Holding the mirror high, in the mincing manner of the Broadway belle whose complexion is in need of repair, she withdrew a powder puff and patted her nose with it. Then her chubby fist closed on a lip-stick and she painted a Cupid's bow over her mouth.

Everybody gasped.

There was a giggle in the back of the courtroom. Mrs. Young's friends looked aghast. (Winifred Van Duzer, Newspaper Feature Service 1924)

The press put this on front pages all over the country. As if a three year old playing with the contents of her mother’s purse was news. Coverage was that intense.

At one point the judge seems to have lost all patience with both of the Youngs.

And when the Judge asked if the parents might not agree to a reconciliation and live together again so that each might be near the baby, Mrs. Young’s attorney hastened to say that she would be more than willing to forgive and forget.

“I would do anything—make any kind of compromise—to keep Rosebud,” said the mother.

…”My wife need not hope for a reconciliation!” (Courtland Young) declared. “I am through with her forever!”

It was then that Judge Levy indicated that Rosebud probably would be sent to a convent, since she is a Catholic, where she would be away from worldly influences.

…When he had finally finished speaking, Mrs. Young dashed from the courtroom with Rosebud still in her arms, and collapsed in the corridor. She rained tears and kisses on the chubby little face and moaned that she would die if the baby was sent to an institution. (Winifred Van Duzer, Newspaper Feature Service 1924)

This spawned national headlines along the lines of ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’, ‘Homeless Heiress’, ‘Wealthy Orphan’ and ‘Blue Blood Baby to Convent’, which the judge clearly later regretted. In the end, however, Judge Levy did not let the circus atmosphere distract him further.

“It is to be regretted,” (Judge Levy) said, “that the father has removed himself from a position in which this Court could move on his behalf by his confessions of his own limitations and by the record of his convictions of intoxication. He has made it impossible for the Court to award him the custody he asks!” (Winifred Van Duzer, Newspaper Feature Service 1924)

Previously, Judge Levy had made it clear that he would side with placing the child in the best environment available. Period. Although Judge Levy had questions as to Dorothea’s character, he stated“…I cannot believe the largest part of the allegations against her and am convinced that many of them are extreme exaggerations, and am satisfied that none of the principal witnesses against her made any earnest effort to tell the truth…”

In legal terms, Courtland Young’s case had been spanked. That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. Courtland had her back in court within the year. Not that Mrs. Young was any slouch when it came to going on offense.

Mrs. Courtland Young, wife of the wealthy magazine publisher, has found that the alimony she receives not sufficient to support her and her daughter (shown above) and has taken a job as cashier in a New York bath house.(Appleton Post-Crescent March 26, 1925)

Counter suit may be filed by Mrs. Dorothea Campbell Young, former Follies girl, against mate, wealthy magazine publisher, who is suing her for divorce. Mrs. Young is shown holding Neal, 2, whom Young denies is his child, and Rosebud, in their New York home. (Hammond Times March 8. 1927)

Courtland Young’s charges against Dorothea never rose much beyond the trivial. But he kept at it. Below we see another example of his crack team of investigators having their work dismissed.

Vice Chancellor Vivian H. Lewis who heard the evidence in the wealthy publisher's petition for custody of the child, expressed the opinion that Mrs. Young might be a fit custodian of her daughter even though she strolled about her home without attire and one of her friends, Arthur Plttman, withdrew his false teeth at the supper table and snapped them for the amusement of the little girl.(Olean Evening Times March 13, 1929)

Just when it seemed the fight would never end, it did.

(Above Uniontown Morning Herald December 3, 1930. Left Jefferson City Post-Tribune December 3, 1930)

Stormy Career Ends

For five years Young's marital difficulties were in the courts intermittently until in December 1928,he was granted a divorce in Paterson, N. J., from Dorothea Campbell, who was then 26. In 1923 he had been sued for separation by his young wife on the allegation he went on long debauches and beat her. The Next year he was arrested for disorderly conduct when his wife accused him of trying to take their 3-year-old daughter away from her, but the charge was dismissed.

Litigation for the custody of the child followed. Young in his suit for divorce charged his wife with misconduct and she countered with a legal request for separation, alleging cruelty and intoxication. (Fresno Bee December 3, 1930)

He wasn’t dead three days, before his estate was placed in protection.

Because the late Courtland H. Young, publisher of Breezy Stories and other magazines, held more, than $400,000 worth of "highly speculative" stocks on margin, the Bankers Trust Company was appointed temporary administrator o£ his estate today. Young died Wednesday of asphyxiation when fire swept his apartment. (San Antonio Express December 7,1930)

Despite the preamble of the above article, Young’s estate was headed for probate in any case. Like pulp publisher Frank Munsey, he had died without a will. Unlike Munsey, Young was only 54 and in apparently good health. Appointing a trust is a normal next step. Young was a major commercial landlord, was partner in numerous legal entities and had at least two sets of heirs. As for the stock, if it was his in anything but name, he got in well after the crash of October 29, 1929.

As for the ‘mystery’ surrounding Mr. Young’s death, it was caused by the condition in which his body was found. His sumptuous west 54th street penthouse had been utterly gutted. Firemen sent to fight the blaze stumbled over his body and found it completely intact and without burns. This led to a lot of speculation--and several competing explanations and accounts. Since foul play was never suspected, they eventually settled on smoke inhalation as the cause of death. No good purpose would be served for coming up with a reason why Mr. Young was in no condition to put out a cigarette fire that started three feet away from him.

The estate would remain under probate trust for the next few years. During this time the bank (or court) seems to have placed the publishing arm of Young’s estate in the custody of a firm alternatively known as Standard Publications, Better Publications, Best Publications, Nedor Publications and Pines Publications: aka The Thrilling Group. They couldn’t have done this if Young’s siblings had objected. It seems unlikely that they would, given that Courtland fairly much ran the business end of his publishing enterprise on his own.

In retrospect, The Thrilling Group was a good fit. Like Young’s, it was also a family operation and fairly well established. (Young may have also been The Thrilling Group’s printer.) Moreover, they didn’t have any titles which were in direct competition with Young’s.

This publisher was called The Thrilling Group because it smeared the words ‘Thrilling’ or ‘Exciting’ as a prefix on all of its genre magazines. Although they don’t seem to have messed with Breezy Stories to any extent, they did smear the Breezy brand name around a bit.

Any publisher other than Young would have put the Breezy brand on all of their magazines. He was really the only pulp owner who believed in keeping his publications so distinct from each other.

There are rumors they also put out a Breezy Science Fiction Magazine, but no copies have ever surfaced. Beyond giving it a nifty new brand to smear about, The Thrilling Group was also able to use Young’s magazines to extend its reach into the English market.

Breezy and the rest of Young’s publications would have made fine additions to any number of magazine lines.Young’s largest competitor, Munsey, was however, also in probate at the time and would never make another acquisition. Street & Smith had gone so far as to launch a new racy imprint specifically to go after Young’s titles.Thrilling, in the end, may have been too small to purchase Breezy and her sisters, but Dell and Fawcett were certainly in the market to buy other magazines. For various reasons, I don’t think Breezy was actually for sale. Rather, it was just tied up in probate.

In 1935 Dorothea Campbell Young reached a $700,000 all cash settlement with the estate. Another undisclosed party, possibly Ann Porter, settled for a similar sum at the same time. At this time the Young family (primarily B.O. Young, whom I believe is a sister) reasserted their control over the magazine line. No real damage seems to have been done under The Thrilling Group’s management, except perhaps for the departure of Breezy’s long time chief editor Cashel St.John Pomeroy.

As opposed to being acquired, Breezy and her sisters merged with the National Advance. If you are looking for either a pulp magazine or a publisher by that name, you will not find one.

Part three: the merger

Back to part one