Glens Falls in 1920 — Noodles Fagan

“Do things right and success will come to you,” was one of the sayings of Clint “Noodles” Fagan, “Champion Newsboy of the World.”

“Be prompt, be courteous, and be thoughtful,” was another.

Fagan started out as a mega-seller newsboy on the streets of Pittsburgh around 1890, and was so successful that he went on the road, traveling the world hawking newspapers, lecturing and organizing newsboy labor unions.

He was president of the Chicago Newsboys Association and the New York Newsboy Union.

Reportedly he got the nickname “Noodles” because during time he spent in New York City a Tammany Hall political boss used to frequently send him out to get pasta.

Eventually, Fagan incorporated his philosophy into a vaudeville act.

Fagan, “King of the Newsboys,” invited 40 Post-Star carriers to be his guests when he performed March 18, 1920 at Empire Theatre on South Street in Glens Falls.

“‘Noodles,’ as he is intimately known, was once a newsboy in New York City and he makes it a point to meet and get acquainted with as many of the little fellows as possible,” The Post-Star reported. “He invites them to the theatre as his guests and then just by way of showing that he has not forgotten the time when he sold newspapers on the street corners he holds a reception on the stage and has a jolly half-hour with the youngsters.”

Fagan had previously played the Empire three years earlier, “at which time he won his way into the hearts of local theatre goers.”

This time, his wife and eight-year-old daughter had been added to the act.

“Little Mary is, without exception, the most versatile youngster ever seen at the Empire,” a Post-Star reviewer reported, perhaps influenced heavily by a theater publicist. “She sings and dances in a manner in which would do credit to an artiste of much greater experience.”

The prodigy was home-schooled as she traveled the theater circuit.

“Not only is Mary a most active little miss so far as things theatrical are concerned, but she also is a student and nothing is more enjoyable than the time she spends in study under her mother’s tutelage.”

Sources: The Post-Star March 18, 19, 1920; Palestine Daily Herald, Palestine, Texas, Dec. 8, 1906; Utah humanities; “Crying the News: A History of America’s Newsboys, Vincent DiGirolamo, 2019


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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY