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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....

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Bradbury, Ray (22 August 1920–05 June 2012), writer, poet, screenwriter, and cultural critic, was born in Waukegan, Illinois, the third (and second surviving) child of Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, a telephone lineman, and Esther Marie (Moberg) Bradbury. He became interested in science fiction in 1928, during convalescence while recuperating from whooping cough; other childhood interests that endured included the wonders of magic, drama, carnivals, and motion pictures. In 1934 his family moved to Los Angeles as Leonard Bradbury looked for work around the movie studios. Ray Bradbury’s first publication, the poem “In Memory of Will Rogers,” appeared in the 18 August 1936 ...

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Boake Carter. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Carter, Boake (28 September 1898–16 November 1944), broadcast journalist, was born Harold Thomas Henry Carter in Baku, then part of Russia (now the capital of Azerbaijan), the son of Thomas Carter, an oilman and British consul in that city, and Edith Harwood-Yarred Carter. He was educated at boarding schools in England and then spent a brief interval at Cambridge University, where he wrote for a student newspaper. Carter was impatient to enter the oil business with his father, and while making preparations to do so he worked as a stringer for the ...

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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....

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Chayefsky, Paddy (29 January 1923–01 August 1981), writer for stage, screen, and television, was born Sidney Chayefsky in the Bronx, New York, the son of Harry Chayefsky, at the time an executive with a dairy, and Gussie Stuchevsky. After school at DeWitt Clinton High School and City College of New York, where he graduated in 1943, Chayefsky was drafted into the army and shipped to Germany. A notoriously sloppy and lazy soldier, Chayefsky earned his nickname, Paddy, when he tried to get out of kitchen duty to attend Catholic mass. After he was injured by a land mine he was shipped to a London hospital, where he and a composer friend wrote a musical, ...

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Clapper, Raymond Lewis (30 May 1892–01 February 1944), journalist and radio commentator, was born near La Cygne, Kansas, the son of John William Clapper and Julia Crowe, farmers. Shortly after his birth Clapper’s family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where his father worked in packinghouse factories. His parents, hardworking but poor, showed little interest in books, politics, or the world outside their strict, religious home life, which was supplemented only by regular attendance at the Baptist church. Through grade school Clapper avidly read newspapers, including the ...

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Cooke, Alistair (20 November 1908–30 March 2004), journalist, was born Alfred Cooke in Salford, a suburb of Manchester, England, to Samuel Cooke, an iron fitter, insurance salesman, and Methodist lay preacher, and Mary Byrne Cooke. His lifelong interest in America began during World War I, when he became “fascinated” by seven American soldiers billeted in his family's home in Blackpool on Britain's northwest coast (Stewart, p. 5). While at Cambridge University in 1930 he took the name “Alistair,” edited ...

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Alistair Cooke in his home in New York City, 12 October 1972. Associated Press

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Cowles, Gardner, Jr. (31 January 1903–08 July 1985), publisher and media executive, was born in Algona, Iowa, the son of Gardner Cowles, a banker, and Florence Call. In 1903 the senior Cowles bought the Des Moines Register and Leader, which within a few years after his acquisition of the ...

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Cronkite, Walter Leland, Jr. (04 November 1916–17 July 2009), broadcast journalist, was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, the son of Walter Leland Cronkite, a dentist, and Helen Fritsche Cronkite. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Kansas City. When he was ten years old his father accepted a position with a dental college in Houston, Texas....

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Walter Cronkite anchors his last CBS election night special in New York City, 4 November 1980. Associated Press

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Davis, Elmer (13 January 1890–18 May 1958), author, journalist, and radio commentator, was born Elmer Holmes Davis in Aurora, Indiana, the son of Elam H. Davis, a cashier for the First National Bank of Aurora, and Louise Severin, principal at the local high school. Described by a childhood friend as an avid reader, Davis began his long career with newspapers the summer after his freshman year in high school by obtaining a job as a printer’s devil for the ...

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Eisler, Gerhart (20 February 1897–21 March 1968), Communist journalist and politician, was born in Leipzig, Germany, the son of Rudolf Eisler, a philosopher, and Marie Ida Fischer. Eisler grew up in Vienna, Austria, where his father was an assistant professor without tenure (Privatdozent) at the university. The socialist sympathies of his parents, his own studies in anarchist and Marxist literature, writing for his school journal, and eventually his experiences as a young officer during World War I were all factors that influenced Eisler’s future. He was active in the revolution in November 1918 and joined the Communist party of German-Austria....

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Eliot, George Fielding (22 June 1894–21 April 1971), author and journalist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Philip Park Eliot and Rena King. His mother died when he was three; five years later his father, a marine insurance broker, married again and, in pursuit of a business opportunity, moved the family to Australia. After attending school at Montclair Academy in New Jersey and in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, young Eliot entered Trinity College, University of Melbourne, from which he graduated in 1914....

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Clifton Fadiman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Fadiman, Clifton (15 May 1904–20 June 1999), literary critic, anthologist, and radio personality, was born Clifton Paul Fadiman in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants Isidore Michael Fadiman, a pharmacist, and Grace Elizabeth Fadiman (maiden name unknown), a nurse. Fadiman, who was known to friends and family as “Kip,” began his lifelong passion for reading at age four, when he reportedly read his first book. By the time he was a teenager, he had read most or all of Sophocles, Dante, and Milton, among others. Fadiman later remembered that “by the end of high school I was not of course an educated man, but I knew how to try to become one” (quoted in Cross)....

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Fast, Howard (11 November 1914–12 March 2003), writer, was born Howard Melvin Fast in the Bronx, New York, to Barney Fast (né Fastov), a Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant, and Ida Miller Fast, a Lithuanian-born immigrant from London. Barney Fast worked as a laborer, initially at a tin factory and later in the garment district. There was little money, but Ida Fast held the family together with abundant love and prudent household management. Young Howard and his three surviving siblings were therefore devastated by the death of their mother in 1923. Without her to look after them, the family quickly sank into desperate poverty....

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Gray, James Harrison (17 May 1916–19 September 1986), newspaper publisher, broadcast executive, and politician, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Lyman Gray, an attorney, and Clara (maiden name unknown). James Gray spent his childhood in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his father served as district attorney. He received his A.B. in English from Dartmouth College in 1937, lettering in several sports and earning Phi Beta Kappa honors. After graduating Gray enrolled at the University of Heidelberg in Germany to study world history. While there in 1939 he contributed news articles about Nazi Germany to the ...

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Hale, Arthur William (16 March 1896–17 October 1971), radio news broadcaster, was born Arthur William Glunt in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the son of George Alexander Glunt, a general store and property owner, and Ida J. Nail. In 1912 Glunt helped organize Altoona’s Musicians’ Union local, graduating from Altoona High School the following year. Glunt also clerked in his father’s store and played the piano in a local movie house. Entering Gettysburg College in 1914, he led the Sophomore and College Orchestra and was Glee Club pianist. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, he left college to join the U.S. Army. Ten months later he was shipped to France and was discharged honorably on 21 August 1919 as a second lieutenant, having served as battalion gas officer in the 312th Field Artillery, 79th Division....