Folk singer and union activist, Partlow worked at newspapers in Milwaukee and San Francisco before coming to Los Angeles in 1940 as a part-time staffer. In 1944 he joined the Daily News staff full-time as a copy editor. He later wrote political columns and ghost wrote many of Manchester Boddy's columns. He wrote the folk song, "Old Man Atom," which garnered wide radio play. He was fired in 1952 when he refused to deny that he was a Communist.