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Abbott, Bud (02 October 1895–24 April 1974), and Lou Costello (06 March 1906–03 March 1959), a team of comedians on stage, radio, film, and television, were born, respectively, in Asbury Park and Paterson, New Jersey. Abbott (born William Alexander Abbott) was the son of Harry Abbott, a circus advance agent, and Rae Fisher, a circus bareback rider. Costello (born Louis Francis Cristillo) was the son of Sebastian Cristillo, an Italian-born silk weaver and insurance sales agent, and Helen Rege....

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Adler, Luther (04 May 1903–08 December 1984), stage, film, and television actor, was born in New York City, the son of Jacob Pavlovich Adler, founder of the American Yiddish theater movement, and Sara Levitzkaya Adler, an actress. While all of the children acted professionally, only Luther and his sister ...

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Adler, Sara (1860?–28 April 1953), actress, was born in Odessa, Ukraine, the daughter of Ellye Levitzky and Pessye (maiden name unknown), merchants. She attended a Russian school, where she made her dramatic debut at age eight in the role of Emilia in Schiller’s ...

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Adler, Stella (10 February 1901–21 December 1992), actress and acting teacher, was born in New York City, the daughter of Jacob Adler, an actor, and Sara Levitzky Adler, an actress and producer. As part of the first family of the American Yiddish theater, Adler was acting from the age of five. Like her parents and five siblings, she was in constant demand as her parents’ Independent Yiddish Art Company played its ever-expanding repertory to packed houses on the city’s Lower East Side. The child-actor’s schedule allowed little time for formal education beyond reading and theatergoing....

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James Agee Photograph by Walker Evans, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103100).

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Agee, James Rufus (27 November 1909–16 May 1955), writer, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Hugh James Agee, a construction company employee, and Laura Whitman Tyler. The father’s family were poorly educated mountain farmers, while the mother’s were solidly middle class. Agee was profoundly affected by his father’s death in a car accident in 1916. He idealized his absent father and struggled against his mother and her genteel and (he felt) cold values. “Agee’s mother wanted him to be clean, chaste, and sober,” the photographer ...

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Albert, Eddie (22 April 1906–26 May 2005), actor and environmental activist, was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Frank Daniel Heimberger, a realtor, and Julia Jones. At the age of one his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he attended parochial school before graduating from Central High School in 1924. He then entered the University of Minnesota where he majored in business and worked his way up to manager at the local theater. Young Eddie left school without graduating and worked a series of odd jobs before joining a singing trio that appeared on the local radio station. Tired of hearing his name mangled as “hamburger” he changed it to Eddie Albert, and after successfully auditioning at NBC he moved to New York with partner Grace Bradt to star in ...

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Albertson, Jack (16 June 1907–25 November 1981), actor, was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Leo Albertson and Flora Craft, a shoe factory worker. Soon after his birth, his father abandoned his mother, and Albertson was raised by his mother and his stepfather, Alex Erlich, a barber. Albertson abandoned his formal education after a single year of high school and began working at factory jobs and as a rack boy for the local pool hall. By age eighteen he was successfully competing as a dancer in amateur talent shows and had formed his own singing group, called “The Golden Rule Four.” He went to New York in 1931 in search of a job in show business. Noticed by an agent while trading steps with some of his fellow would-be hoofers in front of the Palace Theatre, Albertson was offered his first job, joining five other dancers backing a two-woman vaudeville team....

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Alda, Robert (26 February 1914–03 May 1986), stage, motion picture, and television actor, was born Alphonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto d’Abruzzo in New York City, the son of Alphonso d’Abruzzo, a barber, and Frances Tumillo. After an education at the New York University Architectural School, Alda was employed as an architectural draftsman in New York from 1928 to 1931. Since he possessed an excellent singing talent, he gravitated to the stage, touring in burlesque shows such as ...

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Aldrich, Robert Burgess (09 August 1918–05 December 1983), filmmaker, was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of Edward Burgess Aldrich, a leading Rhode Island newspaper publisher and Republican politician, and Lora Lawson. His grandfather was Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich, a self-made millionaire and influential U.S. senator; his aunt Abby Greene Aldrich (...