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Amberg, George (28 December 1901–27 July 1971), professor of film and dance critic, was born Hans Aschaffenburg in Halle, Germany, the son of Gustav Aschaffenburg, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, and Maja Nebel. He was educated in Davos, Switzerland, from 1916 to 1918, at a fashionable boys’ private high school where the kaiser sent his children, and also in Cologne, Munich, and Kiel. In 1923 he founded Cassette, the avant-garde theater in Cologne, and was also a stage director there. From 1924 to 1928 he worked in theatrical festivals with noted German director Gustav Hurtung, first as a dramaturge and play director at the Cologne Theatre, then in 1926 at the Heidelberg Theatre Festival, and thereafter in 1927–1928 as director in the Darmstadt Theatre. Amberg earned his doctorate in December 1930 from the University of Cologne on the German novelist Theodor Fontane as critic. He was also a lecturer and member of the drama department at the university. From 1930 to 1933 Amberg helped to organize the University of Cologne’s theater museum and also established and directed its film library and institute. His published writings from this period concerned the subject of dance. He was a contributing editor on dance to the Ullstein and Herder encyclopedias. Amberg also gave visiting lectures in Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, and Basel. He established a cabaret as well, which was usually considered a low-class entertainment venue, but his was experimental theater that included all of the arts....

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Johnson, Osa (14 March 1894–07 January 1953), author, lecturer, and film producer, was born Osa Helen Leighty in Chanute, Kansas, the daughter of William Sherman Leighty, a railroad engineer, and Ruby Isabel Holman. In 1910 she left high school to marry Martin Johnson, whom she had met eleven years earlier when he visited Chanute as an eighteen-year-old itinerant photographer. In the meantime he had visited Europe alone and traveled with ...

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Le Gallienne, Eva (11 January 1899–03 June 1991), actor, director, and translator, was born in London, England, the daughter of Julie Norregaard, a Danish journalist, and Richard Le Gallienne, an English poet. Her parents separated when she was four, and Eva was raised by her mother and schooled in Paris and London. Her feminist mother, who had been influenced by literary critic Georg Brandes and playwright Henrik Ibsen, gave her daughter an aesthetic education and taught her independence. By the time she was seven, Eva knew Paris, London, and Copenhagen and read and spoke French, English, and Danish. After seeing Sarah Bernhardt perform and then meeting her, Eva decided to dedicate her life to the theater....

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Eva Le Gallienne, c. 1916–1920. Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-1293-C).

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Leyda, Jay (12 February 1910–15 February 1988), translator, writer, filmmaker, and photographer, was born in Detroit, Michigan. His parents’ names are not known. Leyda grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where he spent his youth experimenting with photography, acting, painting, and sculpture. After high school, Leyda worked on a punch press in Dayton and apprenticed in the studio of the photo-secessionist Jane Reece. He arrived in New York City in 1929 to work as a darkroom assistant for the photographer Ralph Steiner and made a living photographing portraits for small magazines such as ...

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Macgowan, Kenneth (30 November 1888–27 April 1963), drama critic, director/producer, and theater educator, was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, the son of Peter Stainforth Macgowan and Susan Arletta Hall. Before he graduated from Harvard in 1911 he was already working as an assistant drama critic for the ...

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Mayer, Arthur Loeb (28 May 1886–14 April 1981), motion picture exhibitor, art film importer, and cinema historian, was born in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Simon M. Mayer, a small-businessman, and Rachel Bernheim. Although born into an affluent German Jewish family in the South, Mayer spent most of his youth in New York City where his mother moved after his father’s death. Mayer attended private secondary schools and graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1907. An uncle introduced him to aspiring movie mogul Sam Goldfish, who hired Mayer as an assistant and trained him in motion picture publicity and ballyhoo. By the time Goldfish took the name ...

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Margaret Mead. Gelatin silver print, c. 1928-29, by Unidentified Artist. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Virginia Yans-McLaughlin

Mead, Margaret (16 December 1901–15 November 1978), anthropologist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Edward Sherwood Mead, a University of Pennsylvania economist, and Emily Fogg, a sociologist and social reformer. Mead’s unconventional education provided her with the tools and social attitudes that governed her later career. Before high school, her paternal grandmother, Martha Ramsey Mead, a schoolteacher well versed in progressive educational theory of the day, and her mother, a social scientist, directed her education at home. Young Margaret’s education included collecting data for observation and recording; anything from the structure of leaves to the language patterns and personality differences of her younger siblings could be noted as data. Before Margaret Mead reached her teens, she accompanied her mother on field trips to Hammonton, New Jersey, where Emily Mead was engaged in sociological research among Italian immigrants. The mother—a feminist, suffragist, leader in the cooperative household movement, and staunch opponent of nativist and racist attitudes—made it a point to expose her child to other ethnic groups and to instill in her awareness of and respect for human equality and differences. Margaret Mead’s M.A. thesis in psychology, in which she argued that linguistic and cultural differences explained lower intelligence-test scores of Italian immigrant children, grew from these early training experiences with her mother....