Author and critic H.L. Mencken called Irvin S. Cobb "at once the successor to Mark Twain and the heir of Edgar Allan Poe." Cobb's "Judge Priest" stories eventually became a film starring his friend Will Rogers, and his short story "Fishhead" inspired Robert Bloch to delve into the macabre in his novel Psycho. The Paducah native's prolific output and fame even compelled a young Rod Serling to pen a radio play of Cobb's life.
Still, since his mid 20th century high point, Cobb's fame and reputation have dimmed. Everywhere, that is, save in his native western Kentucky.
How this fate befell one of the best-selling writers of the last century is the subject of a new biography by Eastern Kentucky University Emeritus Professor Dr. William Ellis. Todd Hatton speaks with Dr. Ellis about Cobb's Jackson Purchase roots, how he receded from the public conscious, and about how he rose to international fame.