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Barrymore, Lionel (28 April 1878–15 November 1954), actor, composer, and artist, was born Lionel Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Herbert Blythe, an actor who adopted the stage name Maurice Barrymore, and Georgiana Drew (Georgie Drew Barrymore), an actress. His mother’s family had been in the theater for generations. Lionel was raised chiefly in the Philadelphia home of his maternal grandmother, actress-manager ...

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Bel Geddes, Barbara (31 October 1922–08 August 2005), actress, children's book author-illustrator, and painter, was born in New York City, the daughter of Norman Bel Geddes, a noted architect and stage designer, and Helen Belle Sneider, an English teacher. Educated at a series of private schools in and around New England, she also spent time in the company of her illustrious father, who was involved in hundreds of theater productions in many capacities. Once after a school play, the drama teacher at the Putney School in Vermont regretfully informed her father that Barbara had “no talent” (...

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Barbara Bel Geddes Associated Press

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de Wolfe, Elsie (20 December 1865–12 July 1950), actress and interior decorator, was born in New York City, the daughter of Stephen de Wolfe, a physician, and Georgina Copeland. She was baptized Ella Anderson de Wolfe. Her father had been raised in Nova Scotia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania; her mother, also reared in Canada, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Elsie attended private schools in New York until the age of fourteen and was then sent to Scotland to finish her education under the tutelage of her mother’s cousin, Dr. Archibald Charteris. Owing to Charteris’s connection to royal circles, she was presented to Queen Victoria and London society at age seventeen, an unusual honor then for an American girl. This experience focused her vision of life on elegance, refinement, fashion, and good taste....

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Zero Mostel. As Leopold Bloom in Ulysses in Nighttown, 1958. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103716).

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Mostel, Zero (28 February 1915–08 September 1977), actor and painter, was born Samuel Joel Mostel in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Israel Mostel and Celia (originally Zina) Druchs, Orthodox Jewish immigrants who ran a kosher vineyard and slaughterhouse. Although Mostel was raised in a religious household and later displayed a special affinity for Jewish characters, his father was not a rabbi as has often been reported; Mostel’s penchant for improvisation extended to his autobiography, and he creatively refashioned his past in interviews throughout his life. Most notably, he sometimes attributed his numeric nickname to his “financial standing in the community” (as he testified to the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1955), but he more regularly credited the label to his supposedly undistinguished schoolwork. Despite these suggested derivations, his stage name may simply have been the innovation of an early publicist. In 1939 he married Clara Sverd; they were divorced in 1941....

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Vincent Price. In Angel Street, 1942. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 945 P&P).

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Price, Vincent (27 May 1911–25 October 1993), actor and art collector, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Vincent Leonard Price, a candy company president, and Marguerite Cobb Willcox. Price studied art history and English at Yale University and toured Europe as a member of the Yale Glee Club. After graduating in 1933, he made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain work as an actor in New York, then took a teaching job with the Riverdale (N.Y.) Country Day School. In 1934 Price began graduate study in fine arts at London University’s Courtald Institute. He wrote his master’s thesis on “Dürer and the School of the Danube” and auditioned for roles on the London stage....

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Robinson, Edward G. (12 December 1893–26 January 1973), actor, was born Emanuel Goldenberg in Bucharest, Romania, the son of Morris Goldenberg, a builder, and Sarah Guttman. He immigrated to the United States in 1902. The family settled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where his father ran a candy store and Emanuel attended P.S. 137, graduating in 1906. That year the family moved to the Bronx, where his father opened an antique shop and Emanuel attended P.S. 20 before being accepted at Townsend Harris High School. In 1910 Emanuel enrolled at the New York City College. He joined the campus drama club, the Elizabethan Society, and worked part time at an etching and lithograph printing shop, where he acquired the foundation for his extensive knowledge of the art world. In 1911 he was awarded a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. His closest friend at the academy was Joseph Schildkraut, son of Rudolf Schildkraut, famous as a leading actor of the Yiddish Theater and a future successful actor in his own right. At the academy Emanuel changed his name to Edward G. Robinson, the ...