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Wallingford, “Get Rich Quick.” “Get Rich Quick” Wallingford was created by George Randolph Chester (Bobby Burnit, Jimmy Wallingford) and appeared in twenty stories and serials and five short story collections and two films from 1907 to 1921, beginning with “Getting Rich Quick” (Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 5, 1907).

James Rufus “Get Rich Quick” Wallingford is a Con Man and swindler. He is a large man, tall and tending towards portly, and he wears a silk hat to make himself appear even taller. He dresses very well, spending what money he has on elegant and confidence-inspiring clothes. Everything about him inspires confidence and the admission of confidences: he is suave, sophisticated, affluent-looking, affable, and generous with his cash--every bit the gentleman.

Or so he appears, and he uses his appearance to swindle the well-to-do out of their funds. The wealthiest and most influential people of every town line up to make his acquaintance, invest in his "Universal Covered Carpet Tack Co." (or whatever company he claims to represent), and have him fleece them of as much as he can get. Wallingford is married to a lovely young woman named Fannie, and is good and charming to her, but she vaguely suspects that he's not entirely honest with her (or anybody else). She does feel guilty about her suspicions, however. 

Wallingford might be thought of as a quintessential W.C. Fields character, only more genial and more successful.

* I'm including the "Get Rich Quick" Wallingford stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are great fun. The Con Man characters and stories of the 1900s and 1910s were as a whole entertaining and clever, but the Wallingford stories stand out because they're better written--more light-hearted, more intelligent, more sly, more unhesitating in its portrayal of Wallingford as the hero regardless of the fact that he's a con man. The stories are genial (like Wallingford himself) and very successful (like Wallingford himself). Recommended. 

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