Charles William Paddock, Olympic sprint champion and newspaper executive, was born to Charles H. and Lulu (Robinson) Paddock on August 11, 1900, at Gainesville, Texas. His family moved to Pasadena, California, when Paddock was a child, in hopes that the climate would improve his health. Paddock attended public schools there before entering the University of Southern California, where as a member of the track and field team, he excelled in short-distance races; he established a world record in the 100-yard dash and tied the world record in the 220-yard dash at a track meet at Berkeley, California, in 1921. These accomplishments brought him wide acclaim as the "fastest human being." Paddock represented the United States as a short-distance runner in three Olympic games. At the 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium, he captured the gold medal in the 100-meter dash and won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash. He also ran the sprint races in the 1924 Olympic games at Paris, and ran on the sprint relay team in 1928, when the Olympics were held in Amsterdam. In spite of his success, Paddock was widely regarded as a controversial figure in American athletics, due in large part to his open criticism of the Amateur Athletic Union, the governing body of amateur track and field in the United States.
In 1920, while he remained active in athletics, he entered the newspaper business. He eventually served as vice president and general manager of the Pasadena Star-News, the Pasadena Post, and the Long Beach Press-Telegram, all newspapers owned by Charles H. Prisk, whose daughter, Neva Prisk Malaby, became Paddock's wife. In addition to newspaper work, Paddock produced motion pictures, wrote books and articles, and lectured. He served as a lieutenant of field artillery in 1917 and 1918 and held a position on the staff of Maj. Gen. W. P. Upshur during World War II. He rose to the rank of captain during the latter conflict, in which he served as an aide to Upshur and as public-relations and morale officer for the Pacific Department. He died with Upshur in an airplane crash near Sitka, Alaska, on July 21, 1943.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Dallas Morning News, July 23, 1943. Gainesville Daily Register, August 30, 1948.
Publishers and Executives
Sports and Recreation
Sports (Track and Field)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Paddock, Charles William,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995