CBC Digital Archives

Callwood as ghostwriter

No one was excluded in the world of June Callwood. The celebrated journalist/activist with a "just fix it" attitude worked tirelessly for countless causes. She helped found over 50 social organizations including Nellie's women's shelter and Casey House, Canada's first AIDS hospice. Dubbed St. June, the woman with movie star good looks and an unwavering capacity for compassion, battled personal tragedy, depression and controversy in a long life that served as Canada's conscience.

If you pick up Barbara Walters' autobiography, you'll actually be reading the words of June Callwood. One of Canada's best-known writers is also a ghostwriter, a person who writes autobiographies for others without public recognition. Callwood has ghosted close to 10 autobiographies for such prominent Americans as broadcaster Barbara Walters, film director Otto Preminger and Dr. Charles Mayo. When host Patrick Watson asks Callwood if it's hard not being credited for her work, she replies: "No. I write better than that." 
. Callwood stumbled upon ghostwriting through Dr. Marion Hilliard. Hilliard, admired for her common sense approach to women's health, was being pressed to write her autobiography but didn't know how. Hilliard also happened to be Callwood's personal physician. On a hunch Callwood offered her services and Hilliard accepted. The book turned out to be a huge success and led to more ghostwriting opportunities.

. Callwood described her working relationship with broadcaster Barbara Walters as harmonious. They wrote the Walters biography, How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything (1970), in a mere six weeks. While Patrick Watson said Walters came across as vain and vacuous, Callwood described her as respectful and complimentary.

. During the writing of the Walters biography, Callwood confessed that she tried to put in as many Canadian references as possible. She would write that someone was as handsome as the Canadian actor Christopher Plummer only to have Walters take out those references.
. Otto Preminger was a celebrated American film director who died in 1986. He directed such classics as Laura: Fallen Angel (1945), Angel Face (1952) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

. Dr. Charles Mayo founded the Mayo Clinic in 1889. It remains one of the foremost medical treatment and research institutions in the world.
. June Callwood was pragmatic about being a ghostwriter: "I get 50 per cent of the royalties and it'll sell better if my name isn't on the book."
Medium: Television
Program: Authors
Broadcast Date: Sept. 21, 1979
Guest(s): June Callwood
Host: Patrick Watson
Duration: 8:24

Last updated: June 22, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

June Callwood: Canada's Conscience

No one was excluded in the world of June Callwood. The celebrated journalist/activist with a "...

Callwood's last interview

In the last television interview of Callwood's life, she opens up to George Stroumboulopoulos ...

Chinese immigrants not giving up

The Chinese community continues to fight for head tax redress, with the help of some very prom...

First AIDS hospice to open in Toronto

June Callwood helps open a place of comfort for those dying of AIDS.

Where's there's a cause, there's Callwood

Callwood talks about the troubled teens that propelled her into social activism.

A turning point for June Callwood, journalist...

In this 1984 radio clip, June Callwood discusses a turning point in her life.