Richard Willard Armour was an American poet and author of more than 6,000 works of assorted poetry and light prose which were published in more than 200 magazines. He also wrote over sixty books.
Richard Armour was born in 1906, in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California. His father was a druggist. He attended Pomona College and Harvard University. He obtained a Ph.D. in English philology from Harvard. He became Professor of English at Scripps College and then at Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California.
Armour wrote funny poems in a style reminiscent of Ogden Nash. These poems were often featured in newspaper Sunday supplements, a feature called Armour's Armory. Many of Armour's poems have been repeatedly and incorrectly attributed to Nash. Armour's most-quoted poem, which is usually quoted by people who credit it to Nash, is this quatrain:
Shake and shake
the catsup bottle
first none'll come
and then a lot'll.
Another popular quatrain of his, also usually attributed erroneously to Nash, is:
the mustard from wieners
as much as the slacks
just back from the cleaners.
Armour also wrote satirical books, such as ‘Twisted Tales from Shakespeare’ and ‘It All Started With Columbus’. These books were typically filled with puns and plays on words. His books were written in a style parodying dull academic textbooks, with funny footnotes, fake bibliographies, quiz sections and glossaries.
Richard Armour, 82, died on February 28, 1989 in a nursing home in Claremont, California. He had Parkinson's disease. He was a master of historical satire and whimsical poetry and amused and delighted millions of readers for four decades.