1-9 of 9 results  for:

  • Media and performing arts x
Clear all

Article

Adams, Franklin P. (15 November 1881–23 March 1960), newspaper columnist, humorist, and radio personality, was born Franklin Pierce Adams in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Moses Adams, a dry-goods merchant, and Clara Schlossberg, both German-Jewish immigrants. During his childhood he was an avid reader of the classics, history, nineteenth-century fiction, and light verse. He studied mathematics and science at the Armour Scientific Academy in Chicago, graduating in 1899. He attended the University of Michigan for less than a year, during which he studied literature and after which he began to earn his own living....

Image

Robert Benchley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108029).

Article

Benchley, Robert (15 September 1889–21 November 1945), humorist, drama critic, and actor, was born Robert Charles Benchley in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Charles H. Benchley, the mayor’s clerk, and Maria Jane Moran. After the death of his older brother Edmund in the Spanish-American War, an event that stunned Benchley’s family, Edmund’s fiancée, Lillian Duryea, largely financed Robert’s education. Benchley attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where his bent for satire early revealed itself when his assigned essay on “a practical subject,” embalming, earned an ...

Article

Cerf, Bennett Alfred (25 May 1898–27 August 1971), publisher and author, was born in New York City, the son of Gustave Cerf, a lithographer, and Frederika Wise, an heiress. Although Frederika had money that accrued from a parental trust fund, Gustave insisted that the family live modestly on his lithographer’s salary. When Cerf was in his teens, his mother died, shortly after giving birth to his sister, who also died. Consequently, sixteen-year-old Cerf became the sole beneficiary of his mother’s sizable trust fund of $125,000....

Article

Field, Joseph M. (1810–28 January 1856), actor, playwright, and humorist, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Matthew Field, a Catholic publisher; his mother’s name is unknown. When he was two, his family arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, and then moved to New York City. Field made his acting debut in 1827 at Boston’s Tremont Theatre in the fall of 1827. During the 1829–1830 season Field made his first New York appearance at the Park Theatre. He played Pierre in ...

Article

Levenson, Sam (28 December 1911–27 August 1980), comedian, author, and educator, was born Samuel Levenson in New York City, the son of Hyman Levenson, a tailor, and Rebecca Fishelman. Levenson attended Brooklyn College (now part of the City University of New York), graduating with a B.A. in 1934. From that year until 1946 he taught Spanish in Brooklyn high schools, also serving as a guidance counselor for the final five years. In 1936 he married his childhood sweetheart, Esther Levine, with whom he had two children. His former students and academic advisees still remember him as a warm and funny teacher who took a personal interest in them and their future....

Image

Will Rogers Left, with Will Hays, c. 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-83080).

Article

Rogers, Will (04 November 1879–15 August 1935), entertainer and social commentator, was born William Penn Adair Rogers near Oologah, Oklahoma, in what was then the Cooweescoowee District of Indian Territory, the son of Clement Vann Rogers and Mary America Schrimsher, Cherokee ranchers. Rogers County, which contains both Oologah, site of the historic Rogers home, and Claremore, site of the Will Rogers Memorial and Museum, is named after the prominent father, not the prominent son. “Uncle Clem” was a major player in Oklahoma politics before and after statehood (1907), serving as a judge, as a member of the Dawes Commission (to distribute Indian lands prior to statehood), and as the first local banker. Will’s loving wife, the former Betty Blake, whom he married in 1908, later remembered that “Will had everything he wanted. He had spending money and the best string of cow ponies in the country. No boy in Indian Territory had more than Uncle Clem’s boy.” (Yet being “Uncle Clem’s boy” could have its downside, too.)...

Article

Shepherd, Jean (26 July 1921–16 October 1999), humorist and multimedia performer, was born Jean Parker Shepherd in Chicago, the son of Jean P. Shepherd, a white-collar worker for Borden Dairies, and Anne Heinrichs Shepherd. A good deal of confusion surrounds the date of Shepherd's birth: it has been reported as 21 or 26 July and with various birth years ranging from 1921 to 1929. Possibly the outgrowth of vanity (after all, it may have been more hip during his New York heyday in the late 1950s through the middle 1960s for him to be “twenty- or thirty-something” rather than “forty-something”), the lack of consistency in his claimed birth year accurately represents his unwillingness to reveal details of his personal life, something that he always claimed had nothing to do with his work. This may seem a strange position for him to have taken, given the fact that generations of Americans believe they know a great deal of Shepherd's life from the stories he told on the radio, wrote for magazine and book publication, and presented on television and in film....