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Bono, Sonny (16 February 1935–05 January 1998), entertainer, songwriter, and politician, was born Salvatore Phillip Bono in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Santo Bono, a truck driver, and Jean Bono (maiden name unknown), a beautician. Reared in a working-class environment, Bono was an average student and enjoyed playing the class clown. When he was seven the family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he finished his education. Bono married Donna Rankin in 1954, two years after his graduation from Inglewood High School. They had one daughter....

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Eisler, Gerhart (20 February 1897–21 March 1968), Communist journalist and politician, was born in Leipzig, Germany, the son of Rudolf Eisler, a philosopher, and Marie Ida Fischer. Eisler grew up in Vienna, Austria, where his father was an assistant professor without tenure (Privatdozent) at the university. The socialist sympathies of his parents, his own studies in anarchist and Marxist literature, writing for his school journal, and eventually his experiences as a young officer during World War I were all factors that influenced Eisler’s future. He was active in the revolution in November 1918 and joined the Communist party of German-Austria....

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Gray, James Harrison (17 May 1916–19 September 1986), newspaper publisher, broadcast executive, and politician, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Lyman Gray, an attorney, and Clara (maiden name unknown). James Gray spent his childhood in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his father served as district attorney. He received his A.B. in English from Dartmouth College in 1937, lettering in several sports and earning Phi Beta Kappa honors. After graduating Gray enrolled at the University of Heidelberg in Germany to study world history. While there in 1939 he contributed news articles about Nazi Germany to the ...

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Macy, John Williams, Jr. (06 April 1917–22 December 1986), federal administrator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of John W. Macy, an advertising executive, and Juliette Moen. He attended the North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois, then entered Wesleyan College, where he majored in government, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1938. After college he served as an intern with the National Institute of Public Affairs from 1938 to 1939 in a program designed to introduce the brightest young minds to the idea of a career in government....

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Mankiewicz, Frank (16 May 1924–23 Oct. 2014), political advisor, journalist, and broadcast and public relations executive, was born Frank Fabian Mankiewicz in New York City, one of three children of Herman Mankiewicz, a drama critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker...

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O’Daniel, W. Lee (11 March 1890–11 May 1969), Texas governor, U.S. senator, and radio performer, known as “Pappy,” was born Wilbert Lee O’Daniel in Malta, Ohio, the son of William O’Daniel, a farmer and worker in a plow factory, and Alice Ann Thompson Earich, a seamstress and laundry woman. His father was accidentally killed working on a bridge construction project when O’Daniel was a baby, and he lived with his mother’s third husband, Charles H. Baker, a farmer, outside of Arlington, Kansas, after 1895. O’Daniel attended local schools and then studied one year at a business college in Hutchinson, Kansas. Afterward he entered the flour milling business and worked at a variety of office jobs in Kansas towns. In 1916 he started the Independent Milling Company, and his firm soon operated into Texas. He married Merle Estella Butcher, with whom he would have three children, in 1917; the marriage exempted him from the draft in World War I....

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Carl Sagan. Courtesy of Cornell University.

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Sagan, Carl (09 November 1934–20 December 1996), space scientist, author, science popularizer, TV personality, and antinuclear weapons activist, was born Carl Edward Sagan in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Rachel Molly Gruber Sagan and garment industry worker Samuel Sagan, an immigrant from the Ukraine. Carl Sagan's Jewish background encouraged him “to ask questions early,” as he later observed (Davidson, p. 57); so did his mother's skeptical, sometimes acidic personality. At age five, he became interested in astronomy when he read in a library book that the stars are distant versions of our sun. His interest in science soared when his parents took him to the New York World's Fair of 1939–1940, which offered an optimistic and (as he later acknowledged) “extremely technocratic” view of the future (Davidson, p. 14)....

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Terkel, Studs (16 May 1912–31 Oct. 2008), oral historian, radio broadcaster, and political activist, was born Louis Terkel in the Bronx, New York. He was the third son of Samuel Terkel, a tailor, and Anna (Annie) Finkel, a seamstress, who had immigrated from Russia in ...

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Wilkinson, Bud (23 April 1916–09 February 1994), college football coach, sports commentator, and politician, was born Charles Burnham Wilkinson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Charles Patton Wilkinson, a successful mortgage broker, and Edith Lindbloom Wilkinson, who died when Bud was seven years old. After his mother’s death, Bud attended the Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota. He thrived at the school and quickly became a standout student and athlete. He graduated in 1933....

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Owen Young. [left to right] C. C. Dill, Owen Young, and James Couzens, before the Senate Interstate Commerce Commission. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98142).

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Young, Owen D. (27 October 1874–11 July 1962), lawyer, business leader, and public servant, was born in Van Hornesville, New York, the son of Jacob Smith Young and Ida Brandow, farmers. Enrolling in St. Lawrence University in 1890, he graduated in 1894. In 1896 he graduated from Boston University Law School cum laude, completing the three-year program in two years. From 1896 to 1903 Young taught evening classes in common-law pleading at the law school....