Behind Every Book A Story
June 20, 2010 6 Comments
Ten years after my father died, I finally sorted through his files, organized them and boxed them to be shipped to the Library and Archives of Canada. As I packed the materials, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand it was a relief to fulfill a promise made years ago; on the other hand sad to see the rows of filing cabinets and boxes gone, my last connection to a man I knew both well and not at all.
Jock Carroll was born in Toronto in 1919. His father, Frank Carroll, was a well-known figure in sports circles, especially hockey. Frank and his brother Richard were the trainers for the Toronto Blue Shirts when Toronto won its first Stanley Cup in 1913-1914. They teamed up again in 1917-18 and won Toronto’s second Stanley Cup with the Arena Hockey Club of Toronto―Dick as coach, Frank again as trainer. Frank also led the Orillia Terriers to the national lacrosse championship, winning the Mann Cup in 1935, and coached the Canadian Olympic Boxing Team in Amsterdam in 1928, Raymond Smillie winning a bronze medal in the welterweight category. Frank was an obvious choice as boxing coach―he had been the Canadian welterweight champion himself in 1906.
Like father like son, Jock was a natural athlete. He played football and rugby in high school, and was an expert handball player. But unlike his father’s life that focused on sports, Jock’s would center on writing.
Two Way Man
When Frank died in 1938, Jock was only eighteen but suddenly the man of the house. He had to forgo university and go to work so he could support his mother and younger sister. In 1944 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and became a pilot, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. After being honorably discharged in 1945, he decided to become a photo-journalist, and thus began a forty year career that would span the globe and result in thousands of articles, hundreds of thousands of photographs, and nine books.
Working as a freelance writer in the late 1940s, Jock realized he would get more work if he could write stories and take photographs—what they called a two-way man—so he bought a camera and built a darkroom in the basement. His first published works appeared in magazines like Saturday Night, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire. In 1950 he joined Weekend Magazine where he would remain for the next twenty years as a staff writer and associate editor.
In 1951 Weekend sent Jock to Korea as a war correspondent. He wrote numerous articles about the war and while there met a young man named Pak Jong Yong. When Jock returned he convinced Weekend Magazine to bring Pak to Canada and sponsor his university education. He and Jock later collaborated on a book about Pak Jong Yong’s life during the war, Korean Boy (1955).
Back from Korea in 1952, Jock met and wrote articles about many famous people including Jack Dempsey and Jerry Lewis. One assignment would ultimately lead to two more books: he was sent to Niagara Falls to write a story about Marilyn Monroe who was there filming the movie Niagara. They hit it off and what started out as a two day assignment turned into two weeks. In 1996, Marilyn: The Niagara Photographs, a book of black and white photographs Jock took during the assignment appeared posthumously, but the assignment also inspired a book published in 1961 called Bottoms Up.
Jock’s only novel, Bottoms Up (later re-released as The Shy Photographer), is a satire about the magazine industry and the heroine, Gloria Heaven, is based on Marilyn. Unable to get the book published in Canada, Jock turned to Maurice Girodias, owner of the Olympia Press in Paris. Girodias was already famous having published Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, and The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy. Unlike North American publishers who thought Bottoms Up had too much sex in it, Girodias didn’t think it had enough. He asked Jock to spice it up, which he did. Under the title The Shy Photographer, the book was translated into a half dozen languages and sold half a million copies.
Over a twenty year period Jock met and wrote about a wide-range of people from Gloria Swanson to Arnold Palmer, Margaret Mead to Elvis Presley, creating along the way a remarkable set of files that reflect his career as a writer and photojournalist in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s.
Toronto was Home
Although assignments took Jock all over the world—Tokyo, Rome, Paris, Seoul, Moscow—most of his articles were about Canadians, and that is why the Library and Archives of Canada wanted his files. In those files are tape recordings, photographs, letters, drawings, telexes, postcards, scrapbooks and films of, by, to, from and about many famous Canadians from Barbara Anne Scott, two-time world champion figure skater, to A. Y. Jackson, one of the original members of the Group of Seven.
Jock was also friends with many of Canada’s leading writers (Pierre Berton and Arthur Hailey), artists (Duncan MacPherson and Harold Town), and other well-known personalities (Ed Mirvish, Ted Reeve and Bob Goulet), and he wrote articles on all of them.
One close friend was Gregory Clark. Often called ‘Canada’s Favorite Storyteller,’ Clark was also an associate editor at Weekend and he and Jock became good friends, Jock writing an article about him in 1958. In 1969, Jock received a grant from the Canada Council to write Clark’s biography. Born in 1892, Clark fought in WWI and served as a war correspondent in WWII. His career as a newsman and journalist would cover the first half of the century, and he would win numerous honors including the Stephen Leacock Award. He also received the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) and the O.C. (Officer of the Order of Canada).
Famous as both a journalist and a humourist, Clark’s career spanned almost fifty years and covers an important period in Canadian history. It took ten years, but Jock finally finished the book in 1980 and it was published in 1981 as The Life and Times of Gregory Clark.
After leaving Weekend Magazine in 1969, Jock joined the Toronto Telegram, but the job lasted only two years because the Tely, as it was called, folded in 1971. Determined to make the most out of an abbreviated career as a newspaper columnist, Jock wrote a book called The Death of the Toronto Telegram (1971) that included some of the columns he wrote at the paper.
As editor of Simon and Shuster Canada, Jock mostly oversaw the publication of books by other people, but he did publish a book to coincide with the 1972 Olympics, The Summer Olympic Games (1972), and a collection of stories based on his many assignments called Down the Road in 1974.
His last stop before retiring was as a speech writer for the Ontario government. While there he wrote the text for a photo book celebrating farming in Canada, The Farm (1984).
The Last Chapter
There was one last assignment that would lead to a book. Sadly, it would also lead to a long, drawn out lawsuit he would not live to see resolved. Back in 1956, Walter Homburger, Glenn Gould’s manager, asked Jock to accompany Gould on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas. Homburger thought an article by Jock would be good PR. Jock didn’t think Weekend would approve such a project, but surprisingly they did and off they went, an unlikely pair given the fact Jock was tone deaf.
The trip itself went well. The trouble began forty years later when Jock was approached by Stoddart Publishing about doing a photo book on Gould. Although Jock had taken all the photographs himself, Stephen Posen, the executor of Gould’s estate (Gould died in 1982) filed a lawsuit against Jock and the publisher claiming the estate owned the ‘personality’ and ‘likeness’ of Gould and therefore should share in the profits of the book (which, if nothing else, showed he didn’t know much about the publishing industry in Canada).
The case was dismissed. Posen took it to the Ontario Court of Appeal. It was dismissed there, too. Ultimately, he appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which refused to hear it. In the end, Jock won because he owned the copyright in the photos—nothing else mattered. After four years, hundreds of filings and depositions, and tens of thousands of dollars in costs, it all came down to the one fact everyone had agreed on from the very beginning.
Tragically, the whole affair took a terrible toll on Jock. Thinking the Gould book would be the capstone to his career, he became despondent when the project deteriorated into a lawsuit. He lost interest in the book and did not live to see it published. He died on August 5, 1995. The book, Glenn Gould: Some Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man, was released later that year.
The Library and Archives of Canada
Over the years, Jock spoke to people at both The Canada Archives and The Library of Canada. Unfortunately, when they were two separate organizations it was impossible for Jock to gift his files to either without breaking up the record of his life’s work and he refused to do that. Before he died he went over his files with me, asked me to keep them together and to see to it that one day they ended up where they belonged. Not because he considered his own career to be that important, but because he realized that the files he left behind, in their totality, were an important record that should be preserved.
Now, with the merger of the Library and Archives, they will be.
Books by Jock Carroll
- Korean Boy, Pak Jong Yong with Jock Carroll. Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada. 1955.
- Bottoms Up, Paris: Olympia Press. 1961. (The Shy Photographer, New York: Stein & Day. 1964.)
- The Life and Times of Gregory Clark, Toronto: Doubleday Canada. 1981.
- The Death of the Toronto Telegram, Toronto: Pocket Books. 1971.
- The Summer Olympic Games, Toronto: Pocket Books. 1972
- Down the Road, Toronto: Pocket Books. 1974.
- The Farm, photographs and Reuben Sallows and John de Visser, text by Jock Carroll. Toronto: Metheun. 1984
- Glenn Gould: Some Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man, Toronto: Stoddart. 1995. Published posthumously.
- Marilyn: The Niagara Photographs, Toronto: Stoddart. 1996. Published posthumously.