"Picture a handsome, heroically charismatic, plainspoken, know-nothing, skirt-chasing, cocky little son of a..." — Description of Jack[1]
Jack (Francis Sullivan) Kelly (b. c. 1882) was the passionate and charismatic leader of the Manhattan Newsies, the president of the Newsboys Union, and spearhead of the 1899 July Newsboys Strike. The son of unknown parents, he was regarded as one of the most talented newsies of his generation, with both natural ability and years of experience on his side.

He rallied first the newsies of Lower Manhattan, and successively the entire city, to a strike in response to Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper price hike in July 1899, alongside his close friend David Jacobs.

Early lifeEdit

1992 Movie

Jack was born under the name Francis Sullivan c. 1882, to unknown parents. His mother is deceased and his father is, for unknown reasons, in the State Penitentiary (likely Rikers Island Jail). At an unspecified time, Jack was taken to the Refuge, where his initial 3 month sentence was extended to 6 months for rioting over the provision of food, and then extended to a year for escaping on Roosevelt's carriage. Sometime after his first brush with the law, he assumed the pseudonym of Jack Kelly and began pretending that his family were out in Santa Fe. At an unknown time, he took over the Manhattan newsies.

Hard Promises Script

Jack was born under the name Francis Malcolm Sullivan c. 1882, to unknown parents. They were alive until Jack was at least 15 years old. His mother is described as "young and frail", his father "proud". At an unknown time, he and his younger brother Michael were sentenced to the Refuge for theft. He watched Michael be crushed to death by a wagon shortly after their escape. At some point, he changed his name. Jack is severely traumatized by this incident, and pretends that his family are alive and in Santa Fe rather than facing reality. At an unknown time, he took over the Manhattan newsies.

Newsies Novel

Jack was born under the name Francis Sullivan c. 1882, to unknown parents. He's described as a "fast-talking Irish boy" who is incredibly at ease on the streets.

Broadway Show

Jack was born c. 1882 (possibly earlier), to unknown parents. He had a close relationship with his father until the man's employers "broke him... tossed him to the curb", leaving Jack with a deep mistrust of corporations and a disillusionment with city life. He claimed that his father "taught him not to starve", perhaps implying a family history of crime. Nothing is known of his mother. At an unknown time (likely early), Jack was brought to the Refuge for "vagrancy and loitering" i.e. being homeless and unattended. Sometime later, he stole food and clothing to give to the boys in the Refuge and was caught. Sentenced to six months, Jack instead escaped on the back of Teddy Roosevelt's carriage during the election campaign (summer 1898). At an unknown time, he took over the Manhattan newsies. For unknown reasons, he is obsessed with Santa Fe. At some point, he developed a serious talent for sketching and painting.

Newsie Days Edit

Jack is one of the oldest and most experienced newsies in Lower Manhattan, allowing him to comfortably lead the newsie cohort of one of the densest portions of New York City. The duration of his leadership is unknown. He is the only person who can stand up to Spot Conlon[2].

Jack's leadership style is largely hands-off, more inclined towards advice than orders. He stays at the Duane Street Lodging House, although he avoids paying for a bed by sleeping on the roof, and functions as an alarm-clock for the boys there. He cares deeply for his fellow newsies, sticking his neck out for them and willing to sacrifice almost anything for their well being.

Strike DaysEdit

Jack created the idea of the strike at the age of 17 when the CEO of the huge newspaper (The World) (Andrew Pulitzer) raised the price of papers without notice. With a little bit of help from Spot Conlon, his intimidating Brooklyn ally, and the new newsie David, the newsies started the strike. He is offered a deal from Pulitzer to shut down this rally that the newsies are holding and receive money for his trip to Santa Fe. At first, he refuses, but when Pulitzer threatens to put the other newsboys in the Refuge, he accepts it. The enraged newsies start to hate Jack, thinking he betrayed them, but he saves David, Les and their sister Sarah from the Delancey brothers and they reunite. The newsies eventually win the strike. Jack is offered a chance to go to Santa Fe by the governor, but refuses in favor of staying with his newsie family.

Is he a real Newsie? Edit

No, Jack is not one of the original Newsies from 1899. His real name in the 1992 movie, “Francis Sullivan” was inspired by a real Newsie from the strike named Jack Sullivan. Jack wasn’t the original leader of the strike. A 18 year old Kid Blink was.


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