The Press: On the Solid Side

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In Manhattan last week, a bouncy brunette from Fond du Lac, Wis. (pop. 27,209) had a wonderful time. She sat entranced at Maxwell Anderson's Anne of the Thousand Days, went backstage at Ken Murray's Blackouts, listened to jazz at Bop City, danced the Charleston at a teen-age party, sipped a horse's neck (ginger ale and lemon peel) at the Stork Club, took a moonlight ride through Central Park in a convertible with the top down, and burned her tongue on a nightcap of hot chocolate at Rumpelmayer's. It was the kind of Manhattan merry-go-round that teen-agers dream about for their first visit to New York. So naturally it was just the thing for Sheila John Daly, one of the two top teenagers' columnists,* even though it was her 32nd visit.

At 21, pretty "ChiChi" Daly writes a daily column ("On the Solid Side") about teen-age manners & morals for the Chicago Tribune and 34 other newspapers, also turns out two Sunday newspaper columns and a monthly feature for the Ladies' Home Journal. Between times she lectures, and turns up as guest star on radio and TV. Last week Chi-Chi tossed off another chore; she autographed copies of her latest (and fourth) book of etiquette for teenagers, Blondes Prefer Gentlemen (Dodd, Mead; $2.50), and signed a contract for her column with the New York Daily News. She grosses $22,000 a year.

Five Sisters. In the Daly family of Fond du Lac, such activity is standard. Chi-Chi's sister Marguerite, 32, is a top Chicago model. Kathleen, 29, is a high-salaried Manhattan ad executive (Revlon, Maiden Form) and Maureen, 27, is the author of the perennial bestseller Seventeenth Slimmer and a Ladies' Home Journal editor. (Her husband, Mystery Writer William McGivern, resignedly calls himself "the fifth Daly sister.") On the Dodd, Mead list this year, the Daly-McGivern clan will be responsible for eleven titles.

If Chi-Chi "fell" into her good fortune, as she says, it was partly because Maureen pushed her. While still at Illinois' Rosary College, Maureen landed a job as a teenage columnist with the Chicago Tribune, handed it down 4½ years ago to her kid sister. Chi-Chi has tripled the number of papers.

Coosome Twosomes. Columnist Daly's busy day starts with a bubble bath and a double orange juice at 8 a.m., ends at the i a.m. curfew her mother usually succeeds in enforcing. Her column, seldom more than an hour's work, is larded with teen talk (e.g., "beau boy," "corner casbah," "coosome twosome"). Sandwiched in between chit-chat about good grooming, fads and fashions and "date data" is a thick slice of advice. Samples: "How are you going to avoid necking? . . . Simply keep away from the situations that . . . send you into a romantic mood [such as parking] on the shoreline . . . Unless you're absolutely sure how much you can drink safely . . . don't drink on a date." Most of the advice is safe & sound, and many teen-agers who wouldn't take it from their parents seem to accept it from Chi-Chi. (But one irked teen-age boy wrote: "There's nothing wrong with you that a good hot date wouldn't fix.") She gets from 500 to 1,000 fan letters a month, has to get help from Marguerite to answer them.

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