Russell Vincent Maloney was born 26 June 1910 in Brookline Massachusetts to Vincent Paul Maloney and Alta V. Brooks. He was the eldest of three children, followed by a brother—Vincent Paul Jr.—and a sister—Alta. I don’t know why the two younger children were named after the parents, but Russell only carried his father’s middle name. He grew up in Newtown. The parents had come from the Midwest—Vincent born in Kansas, Alta in Missouri. Vincent senior was an advertising manager for the Boston Globe. (Alta had once worked for the Kansas City Star; and her father had been a peripatetic newspaper publisher—practitioner of what Fortean Harry Leon Wilson called “a good loose trade.”)
Maloney attended Mason Grammar School, Newtown High School, and then matriculated at Harvard in 1928. The Freshmen Red Book has him as broad-faced with close-cropped hair and perfectly circular glasses. That year, he was associated with the University Dramatic Club. He majored in English literature and hoped to follow his father into advertising—not unlike Thayer himself, then, born a few years earlier, bitten by the theater bug, making a career in advertising. And like Thayer Maloney became a writer—which was, however, his sole occupation.