Ollie Crawford: “Headline Hopping”
Iran, Cabbage Throwing, and a Nose Full Of Nickels...
Game for a good cabbage story? You’ve come to the right place.
In August 1952, an angry mob of Iranian Communists reportedly assaulted a group of U.S. military and embassy personnel in Tehran, hurling stones, bricks and, in one case, a rotted cabbage. Sgt. Paul Goodwin was the unfortunate victim, pegged right in the arm by the round cruciferous vegetable as he drove past the Russian Embassy. So cruel....
The incident was ideal fodder for Ollie Crawford, a topical humor columnist on par with wisecracking contemporaries like Frederick C. Othman, Bugs Baer and H. I. Phillips. I know, those names mean nothing to you...but who was this Ollie character?
Oliver H. Crawford (1911-1995) was an executive and co-creator of TV Guide, executive director of the Hollywood Radio & Television Society for 28 years, and humorist. The broadcasting industry award the “Ollie” was named after him in 1993.
A former sportswriter, Crawford wrote feature stories for The Philadelphia Inquirer, which also published his column, "Headline Hopping". Covering an array of national and global subjects, the column ran on the front page from 1948 to 1952 and was also syndicated by the General Features Corporation. He left the Inquirer in 1952 to help form TV Guide, first as writer and programming editor in New York, and later Los Angeles regional manager.
Here is a sampling of his various witticisms—of direct relevance to this site, of course. You can practically hear the rim-shots after each corny quip and pun....
[October 3, 1951]
By Ollie Crawford
ACTION delayed by U.N. on British-Iranian oil dispute. It’s the slipperiest thing to face the U.N. since the Russians.
There are no hard feelings. The Iranians are British well wishers.
This is tougher to decide than the National League pennant. The Iranians want to take over the business at the last minute, like the Giants. They’re making so much fuss over oil, you’d think it was a World Series. There isn’t this much excitement over drilling in the dentist’s office.
The only oil Mossadegh isn’t yelling for is hair oil.
Mossie took one look at the Abadan refinery and started singing: “Abadan to get you in a taxi, honey.” Nothing kept the Iranians from getting the oil first but 3000 feet of earth and a distaste for digging. The British found it, drilled it. pumped it and refined it. Then the Iranians decided the British had done enough.
The only easier way to get into the oil business is to marry a Rockefeller.
Mossie’s idea of a fair deal is to take the refineries and give the British the works.
[October 16, 1951]
By Ollie Crawford
EGYPT demands control of Suez Canal. It’s the key to the Middle East and Egypt wants to change the locks.
In this part of the world, angles rush in where Russians fear to fool.
The Middle East countries are grabbing off more than a Western Pennsylvania bank teller. Iran got $500,000,000, [totally false] or the equivalent of Mossadegh’s nose full of nickels. Mossie’s the boy who decided that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody wells. Now the British are getting squeezed between the Near East and the Farouk.
The British ambassador’s message home said: “Confidentially, it’s sphinx.”
Farouk is the boy who may lose his whole country playing Pharoah. Like some other Egyptian architecture, he’s broad on bottom and comes to a point on top. The Nazis came closer to taking him than wiener is to schnitzel. If they ask him why he did it he’ll sing: “My Mummy Done Tol’ Me.”
He’ll just about take over the Red Sea when he gets taken over by the Red seize.
The Suez Canal crosses a narrow neck of land, and Britain is about to get it in the neck.
[August 26, 1952 — excerpt]
By Ollie Crawford
Yank Hit With Cabbage
American aide hit with cabbage in Iran. Things are really coming to a head.
They call this the Middle East because somebody is always in the middle.
In Iran, everybody is unhappy, and not just the Giant fans. Some of the Iranians are so poor, they haven’t got two clubs to rub against each other. Every other day, they rope off the streets and have block parties—where they try to knock each other’s block off.
Americans haven’t seen such riots since Wanamacy’s offered the $3 dresses for $2.98.
So many people are getting injured they call the center of Tehran Maim street. They send people to the hospital the hard way, without automobiles. Getting caught between the Mossadegh mob and the communists is like getting caught between a woman driver and a parking place.
All that oil, and the Iranians are about as happy as sardines.
Tehran has finally shown our boys something new—hit-and-run pedestrians.
[August 18, 1953]
By Ollie Crawford
SHAH flees Iran as coup fails. This boy found he didn’t have a chance, so he flew the coup.
His boys slipped up somewhere, and all they could say was: “Oh, Shah.”
He’s the second ruler to hit the road in what is now known as the Muddle East. It seems the modern throne is almost as hard to sit on as the modern chair. One minute he had the country in the bag and the next minute he was off to Bagdad.
The Shah got one report on the revolt, then asked: “What time does the next magic carpet leave?”
He was trying to get rid of Mossadegh and it was a nice try. The country is full of oil, but the Shah’s revolt ran out of gas. He gave up trying to take over Iran and just plain ran. He made one grab for the throne and was thrown out.
With all that oil, Mossadegh is too slippery to handle.
From now on, the Shah will be the rolling stone who gathers no Mossadegh.
[August 25, 1953]
By Ollie Crawford
SHAH of Iran says country needs money. This poor boy has all his money tied up in oil wells.
The Shah is back home and broke, and a million American vacationists know the feeling.
The Shah said he was willing to borrow from anybody, and it’s nice to have a Shah who plays no favorites. He didn’t mention any names, but everybody seems to be looking at Uncle Sam. His only other chance is to land a spot on the "Strike It Rich" program.
This proves that Mossadegh ran a clean government, because the first thing they cleaned out was the treasury.
When the Shah got back, he found nothing in the Iran treasury but a note reading: “Iran a little short—Mossie.” He opened the safe and found three letters from Mossadegh—I.O.U. As far as the Shah is concerned, there wasn’t a carload in a coffer.
He’s back playing the Palace, but somebody has cleaned out the box office.
The Shah is perfectly satisfied with Premier Fazollah, [sic—Fazlollah Zahedi] but he’s worried about the do-re-mi.
Everyone’s a Comedian... Columnist Tex Reynolds Makes Light of an Iranian Tragedy
"A Cookie Nibbler Cannot Be A Hero" — The Progress Index, April 15, 1954
"Mossadegh the Actor" — The Times Record, December 3, 1953
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”