J. Wilbur Wolfingham

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J. Wilbur Wolfingham

The "king of old-time confidence men" (S No. 35/1, Jul/Aug 1945: "Fame for Sale!"; and others), "a slick, double-talking con-man ... who would steal the teeth from a tailor's dummy" (WF No. 43, Dec/Jan 1949-50: "When Metropolis Went Mad!"). A portly man with a monocle over his right eye and an ever-present cigar clenched between his teeth, he is "the greatest con-man of all time" (WF No. 60, Sep/Oct 1952: "The Swindler who Was Honest!"), amd "arch swindler" (WF No. 52, Jun/Jul 1951: "The Man Who Swindled Superman!"), a "fat and florid master of flim-flam" (S No. 42/1, Sep/Oct 1946: "The Men Who Wouldn't Quit!"). The exact positioning of his lone initial is uncertain, for he is referred to as J. Wilbur Wolfingham in one text (WF No. 60, Sep/Oct 1952: "The Man Who Swindled Superman!"), as Wilbur J. Wolfingham in another (WF No. 52, Jun/Jul 1951: "The Man Who Swindled Superman!"), and simply as Wilbur Wolfingham in nine texts in which he appears (S No. 26/2, Jan/Feb 1944: "Comedians Holiday!"; and others).

Superman has described J. Wilbur Wolfingham as "one of the most notorious flimflam artists of our century" (Act No. 79, Dec 1944: "The Golden Fleece!") and as "a notorious con-man with a long record of arrests" (WF No. 43, Dec/Jan 1949-50: "When Metropolis Went Mad!"). "Too bad Wolfingham never tried to be an honest salesman!" notes Superman No. 35/1, "He would have ranked with the best of them!" (Jul/Aug 1945: "Fame for Sale!").

Ironically, however, "in spite of his crooked intentions," Wolfingham always seems to do good to everyone but himself!" (S No. 28/1, May/Jun 1944: "Lambs versus Wolfingham!"). Typically Wolfingham's crooked schemes, intended solely for his own enrichment, end up enriching his victims instead, with the result that Wolfingham, having technically committed no crime, walks away impoverished but free to plot again. In the words of Superman No.35/1:

Don’t buy gold bricks from strangers, but if Wilbur Wolfingham should offer you one, you might take a chance! For when that king of old-time confidence man tries to turn a dishonest penny, everyone seems to come out ahead of the game but himself! (Jul/Aug 1945: “Fame for Sale!”)

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