CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Callwood as ghostwriter

The Story

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." 

Medium: Television
Program: Authors
Broadcast Date: Sept. 21, 1979
Guest: June Callwood
Host: Patrick Watson
Duration: 8:24

Did You know?

• 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."



June Callwood: Canada's Conscience more