He was born as Josiah Pitts Woolfolk in Chicago in 1894. His father was a doctor who died at age 49, thus he was brought up by his grandmother and educated at Northwestern University and Racine College.
He started his literary career as a newspaperman working for several Chicago dailies, moving on to pulp magazines and to dozens of books. He was a skillful plotter, setting up clever situations and ingenious resolutions. In his autobiography, he states he sold over 1,000 short stories to over 60 periodicals. His book, Evangelical Cockroach provides 39 of his short stories.
Jack Woodford was his first of many pseudonyms--Jack because he liked material written by Jack Lait and Woodford since his father had been born in Woodford County. Three of his many other pseudonyms were Howard Kennedy, Gordon Sayre, and Sappo Henderson Britt.
A former telegrapher, he typed at machine gun speed, literally wearing out one to two typewriters each month. He said he could turn out a 1,200 word story in less then an hour without corrections.
His fiction was highly controversial, regarded as salacious and he was branded a pornographer. His stories were filled with sex leaving people hot and bothered--that censors couldn't touch because he never described any body part--his books having sensational titles as Sin and Such, White Meat and Love in Virginia. Today they are regarded as being mildly erotic and sexually suggestive.
By 1940, 30 million people had read an article, book or short story by Jack Woodford. He stated, "I have more books in active print all at one time than any other author ever had in the entire history of the publishing business in the United States."
His novel, City Limits was made into a film by MGM in 1934. On an impulse, he and his daughter moved to Hollywood where he worked for Warner Brothers, MGM, Columbia, and Universal. He wrote scripts for the MGM shorts, The Magician's Daughter (1938), Anaesthesia (1938), What Do You Think? (1938), and Happily Buried (1939)--and many other films for which he was given no credit. They lived in Hollywood until 1951 in relative obscurity.
He wrote 60 novels from 1930 to 1953. From 1950 to 1954 he co-authored over thirty novels with young writers--apparently attaching his name to these unknown writer's manuscripts. He wrote almost 20 non-fiction books primarily focused on how to write and get publish.