1-15 of 15 results  for:

  • Manufacture and trade x
  • Media and performing arts x
Clear all

Article

Bricktop (14 August 1894–31 January 1984), entertainer and nightclub operator, was born in Alderson, West Virginia, the daughter of Thomas Smith, a barber, and Hattie E. (maiden name unknown), a domestic worker. Christened Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia, because her parents did not wish to disappoint the various neighbors and friends who offered suggestions for naming her, Bricktop received her nickname because of her red hair when she was in her late twenties from Barron Wilkins, owner of a nightclub called Barron’s Exclusive Club in Prohibition Harlem....

Article

Durante, Jimmy (10 February 1893–29 January 1980), comedian, was born James Francis Durante on New York City’s East Side, the son of Barthelmeo Durante and Roséa Millino. His French-Italian father operated a barber shop. His mother endowed him with the enormous nose that was to become his trademark. After dropping out of school in the seventh grade, Jimmy tried a variety of odd jobs, but he spent most of his time at a piano his father had bought for him, complete with lessons. Although his father hoped that his son would pursue a classical career, by age seventeen Durante was playing in Diamond Tony’s saloon (“Twenty-five bucks a week; hours from eight in the evening until unconscious”) on Coney Island. Later he played ragtime piano at various clubs and organized a five-man jazz band for a club in Harlem. There he met a singer, Jeanne Olson, whom he hired and, in 1921, married. They had no children. Another new acquaintance was Eddie Jackson, a singer....

Article

Gaige, Crosby (26 July 1882–08 March 1949), theatrical producer and writer, was born Roscoe Conkling Crosby Gaige in Nelson, New York, the son of George Edward Gaige, a postmaster, and Jane DeMaine. Gaige was descended from Enoch Crosby, a confidential emissary for General ...

Article

Guinan, Texas (12 January 1884–05 November 1933), nightclub personality, was born Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan in Waco, Texas, the daughter of Michael Guinan, a grocery wholesaler, and Bessie Duffy, both of whom had emigrated to the United States from Quebec, Canada, although their forebears had emigrated to Canada from Dublin, Ireland. Guinan was first married to John J. Moynahan, a Denver newspaper cartoonist, in 1904. It was a brief union and Guinan was on her own again by 1907. She entered show business as a rodeo driver, appeared in an operetta, ...

Article

Harney, William Selby (22 August 1800–09 May 1889), soldier, was born in Haysborough, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Harney, a merchant and surveyor, and Margaret Hudson. Harney was first home educated and later received advanced schooling at Cumberland College. He began his U.S. Army career in 1818 when he was commissioned second lieutenant. Harney was an ambitious, daring, and impulsive officer, traits that would both help and hinder his military career....

Article

Lewis, Ted (06 June 1890–25 August 1971), entertainer, musician, and bandleader, was born Theodore Leopold Friedman in rural Circleville, Ohio, the son of an owner of a dry goods store whose name cannot be ascertained. Young Theodore began his show business career performing in a nickelodeon in his hometown and learned to play the clarinet in his school band. As a beginning clarinetist, Lewis was something of a prodigy. Although he was never regarded seriously as a musician, he played easily and improvised naturally. Having no desire to go into the dry goods business and still in his teens, he went to Columbus, Ohio, where for a time he demonstrated instruments in a music store. His freewheeling improvisations amused customers but eventually caused him to lose the job....

Article

Niblo, William (1789–21 August 1878), restaurateur and theater manager, was born in Ireland. Nothing is known of his father or mother, and little is known of his childhood. Niblo came to the United States at a young age and apprenticed to the proprietor of a coffee house at Forty-three Pine Street in New York City. After rising to a position of responsibility, he married Martha King, the owner’s daughter, and eventually acquired his father-in-law’s business. Niblo’s establishment, which he named the Bank Coffee House, became known for its culinary excellence and genial atmosphere, making it a popular meeting place for merchants....

Article

Payne, Virginia (1910–10 February 1977), radio actress and entertainment union leader, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Personal information on Payne is scant. She took two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and apparently had given some thought to making her way in the world as a singer. Payne broke into radio on the local station WLW while still in college, playing the part of Honey Adams, a singing southern belle, on a program soon to be known to Americans everywhere as “Ma Perkins.” The program began in a very modest way at the Cincinnati station in the summer of 1933, and then on 4 December 1933 it moved to Chicago, where it became an NBC network program. Within only a year the program became perhaps the prototype of what would be called soap opera but which in the radio industry was called the daytime serial. The identity of Payne had to be kept secret because she was a 23-year-old playing the role of Ma Perkins, a middle-aged woman with grown children, an effect not too hard to achieve on radio for someone with voice training....

Article

Popeil, Samuel J. (22 January 1915–15 July 1984), inventor and manufacturer, was born in New York City, the son of a garment worker; his parents’ names are unknown. Little else is known about his childhood and early education, but Popeil’s career training came through the family. Several of his uncles worked as product demonstrators in New York department stores and flea markets, selling potato peelers, cheese slicers, and other household gadgets....

Article

Sadler, Harley (04 September 1892–14 October 1954), tent show actor-manager, oilman, and Texas legislator, was born near Pleasant Plains, Arkansas, the son of Junius E. and Lula T. Sadler. Junius, after several years of marginally successful farming, settled down to the life of a general merchant in Stamford, Texas, where Harley first demonstrated the interest in show business that was to dominate his life. With no training beyond participation in high school plays and the town band, he left home before graduation to join a small carnival as a musician....

Image

G. David Schine. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Article

Schine, G. David (11 September 1927–19 June 1996), government official and businessman, was born Gerard David Schine, the son of J. Myer Morris Schine, millionaire owner of radio stations, movie theaters, and hotels, and Hildegarde Feldman Schine. After graduating from Harvard in 1949, Schine was appointed by his father to be president of his own company, Schine Hotels Inc....

Article

Scripps, William Edmund (06 May 1882–12 June 1952), publisher and industrialist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of James Edmund Scripps, the founder of the Detroit Evening News, and Harriet Josephine Messinger. After attending the Michigan Military Academy, he joined the Detroit News...

Image

Esther Jane Williams. Full-length portrait, seated, wearing a bathing suit, 1945. Photographic print. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-137503).

Article

Williams, Esther Jane (08 August 1921–06 June 2013), movie star, swimming champion, and swimwear executive, was born in a small bungalow in Inglewood, a southwest suburb of Los Angeles, the fifth child born to Bula Myrtle Gilpin, a teacher, and Louis Stanton Williams, a sign painter. The family had followed her brother Stanton to Hollywood from Utah, and he appeared as a child star in silent pictures. Esther's mother took no interest in her, and she was raised by older sister Maurine, who taught her to swim. When Esther was eight years old, Stanton died from a burst colon. She hoped to replace his achievements with her own. At age eleven, Esther won a fifty-meter freestyle race at the Olympic Swim Stadium in Los Angeles. When she was sixteen she began swimming for the Los Angeles Athletic Club. During her teens she was repeatedly raped by an orphaned boy her parents had taken into their house. The water became her sanctuary....