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John Wilkes Booth. Picture featured on a wanted poster immediately following the Lincoln assassination. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-5341).

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Booth, John Wilkes (10 May 1838–26 April 1865), actor and assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, actor and assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was born near Bel Air in Harford County, Maryland, the son of Junius Brutus Booth, an actor, and Mary Ann Holmes. His grandfather, Richard Booth, named him after John Wilkes, the British reformer. As a child Booth dabbled in acting, as did some of his brothers and several neighborhood boys, both at the Booth country home, “Tudor Hall,” and at their town house in Baltimore. Booth’s father actively discouraged his children from entering the theatrical profession, but he toured extensively and died on the road when John was only fourteen....

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Robert A. Armour

Crane, Bob (13 July 1928–29 June 1978), actor, was born Bob Edward Crane in Waterbury, Connecticut, the son of Alfred T. Crane and Rosemary Senich. Following graduation from high school, Crane studied music in Waterbury with plans to become a professional drummer. He played with the Connecticut Symphony from 1944 until 1946, when he left to perform with several dance bands touring the East Coast. Following a stint with the Connecticut national guard from 1948 until 1950, he became a radio disc jockey with a reputation for humor and a glib manner. Between 1950 and 1956 he worked for radio stations in New York and Connecticut before moving to station KNX in Hollywood, California, where he remained until 1965. His humor and clowning made the show a quick success....

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Gillars, Mildred Elizabeth (29 November 1900–25 June 1988), radio propagandist, known as “Axis Sally,” was born Mildred Elizabeth Sisk in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Vincent Sisk, a railroad yardman, and Mae Hewitson. When Mildred was seven her parents divorced, and shortly after, her mother married Robert Bruce Gillars, a dentist, who moved his new family to Conneaut, Ohio. From her early years, Mildred was a stagestruck child whose mother encouraged her desire to be an actress. She appeared in a number of theater productions at Conneaut High School and at Ohio Wesleyan University, which she entered in 1918. In preparation for a career on the stage Gillars majored in English and oratory and minored in voice and piano. At Ohio Wesleyan Gillars’s performances were highly praised. She was an erratic student, however, and because of several incompletes and failures, she left the university in 1922 without graduating....

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Will Hays [left to right] Will Rogers and Will Hays, c. 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-83080).

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Hays, Will H. (05 November 1879–07 March 1954), motion picture industry official, lawyer, and politician, was born William Harrison Hays in Sullivan, Indiana, the son of John T. Hays, an attorney, and Mary Cain. He graduated from Indiana’s all-male Wabash College in 1900 and privately studied law. Upon passing the Indiana bar, Hays opened a law office in Sullivan and became city attorney. He moved through a variety of political offices in Indiana before he was named chairman of the Republican National Committee in June 1918. When ...

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Jefferson, Eddie (03 August 1918–09 May 1979), jazz singer, lyricist, and tap dancer, was born Edgar Jefferson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Information about his parents is unknown. It is known that he started dancing around age eight. He also played tuba in a school band and taught himself guitar and drums, experiences that later gave his singing a firm musical foundation. In Pittsburgh he was accompanied by pianist ...

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Laurence Langner Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1934. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 663 P&P).

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Langner, Lawrence (30 May 1890–26 December 1962), patent agent, playwright, and theatrical producer, was born in Swansea, South Wales, the son of Baruch Bernard Freedman, a businessman, and Cecilia Sarah Langner. (He took his mother’s maiden name.) He attended private schools in Swansea and in Margate, England. After a brief stint as a clerk for a theatrical manager in 1903, he was apprenticed to Wallace Cranston Fairweather, a chartered patent agent in London. Langner passed examinations of the British Chartered Institute of Patent Agents in 1910....

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Placide, Alexandre (1750–26 July 1812), ballet dancer, choreographer, and acrobat, was born Alexandre Bussart Placide in Paris, France, but otherwise nothing is known of his early life. His parents were also acrobats, and his sister Mme Billioni was a famous singer at the Comédie Italienne. He may have trained at the Paris Opéra, if he was the same “M Placide” who danced there from 1772 to 1773. After his 1770 debut at Nicolet’s, the famous Parisian theater, he began to tour, performing in the Netherlands (1780); London (1780–1785); Bath, Bristol, Norwich, and Dublin (1783–1784); and the French provinces (1787). He composed numerous pantomimes, in which he played the role of Pierrot, including ...