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Roone Pinkney Arledge. Signing a business contract with the boxing promoter Don King (left) and the former heavyweight champion George Foreman (right), 21 October 1976. Courtesy of AP Images.

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Arledge, Roone (08 July 1931–05 December 2002), television broadcasting executive, was born Roone Pinckney Arledge, Jr., in the Forest Hills section of Queens in New York City, the son of Roone Arledge, an attorney, and Gertrude Stritmater Arledge. He grew up in Merrick, a Long Island suburb, and excelled at Mepham High School both in his studies and in athletics as a member of the varsity wrestling and baseball teams. Graduating in 1948, Arledge enrolled at Columbia University hoping to become a professional writer; he had varied interests in journalism, drama, and academic philosophy and was a writer for the Columbia student newspaper, the Spectator. He graduated in 1952. Still uncertain of his career, he enrolled in graduate courses at Columbia's School of International Affairs with thoughts of becoming a foreign correspondent. Needing to support himself, he took an entry‐level television production job at the (now defunct) DuMont Television Network....

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Lucille Ball. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106047).

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Ball, Lucille (08 August 1911–26 April 1989), actress and television executive, was born Lucille Désirée Ball in Jamestown, New York, the daughter of Henry Dunnell Ball, a telephone lineman, and Désirée “DeDe” Evelyn Hunt. Stagestruck from an early age, Ball quit school at fifteen to attend New York City’s John Murray Anderson/Robert Milton School of the Theater and Dance. Later accounts describe her New York years, from about 1926 to 1933, as a time of struggle that required the aspiring actress to be tough. Jobs in the chorus line of Broadway shows never seemed to pan out for Ball, who eked out a living first waitressing and then modeling. She eventually got her show-business break in 1933, when she was sent to Hollywood as a chorus girl in ...

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Cowles, Gardner, Jr. (31 January 1903–08 July 1985), publisher and media executive, was born in Algona, Iowa, the son of Gardner Cowles, a banker, and Florence Call. In 1903 the senior Cowles bought the Des Moines Register and Leader, which within a few years after his acquisition of the ...

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Walt Disney. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114742).

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Disney, Walt (05 December 1901–15 December 1966), animator and motion picture producer, was born Walter Elias Disney in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elias Disney, a building contractor, and Flora Call, a teacher. After a childhood near Marceline and in Kansas City, Missouri, Disney studied at the Chicago Institute of Art in the evening while attending McKinley High School during the day. In 1918 he enlisted in the American Ambulance Corps, serving in France and returning to employment as an artist at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where he befriended artist ...

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Goldenson, Leonard H. (07 December 1905–27 December 1999), entertainment industry executive, was born Leonard Harry Goldenson in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, the son of Lee Goldenson, a haberdasher whose business interests included several local movie theaters, and Ester Broude Goldenson, a Russian immigrant. He attended public schools in the rural coal- and steel-producing region southwest of Pittsburgh, excelling in academics and athletics and winning admission to Harvard College, an extraordinary accomplishment in 1923 for a boy from a provincial middle-class Jewish family. After completing his B.S. degree in business administration in 1927, he attended Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B during the Depression year of 1930. He was admitted to the New York state bar that year....

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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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Harbord, James Guthrie (21 March 1866–20 August 1947), army officer and corporation executive, was born in Bloomington, Illinois, the son of George Washington Harbord, a farmer who had served as a cavalryman in the Union army during the Civil War, and Effie Critton Gault. When James was a child, around 1870, the family moved to Pettis County, Missouri, then in 1878 to Lyon County, Kansas. Growing up on the family farm, Harbord had an active, outdoors-oriented boyhood, but he also was an avid reader. After high school he enrolled at Kansas State Agricultural College, a land-grant institution, where military training fostered his interest in an army career. Upon graduating in 1886 with a B.S., he taught school for two years while unsuccessfully trying to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. When this attempt failed, Harbord enlisted on 10 January 1889 as a private in Company A, Fourth U.S. Infantry....

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Atwater Kent. Standing by radio in the Hamilton Hotel, Washington, DC. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109738).

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Kent, Atwater (03 December 1873–04 March 1949), inventor and manufacturer, was born in Burlington, Vermont, the son of Prentiss J. Kent, a physician, and Mary Elizabeth Atwater. His first name was actually Arthur, but he used his middle name alone throughout his life. He attended Wooster Polytechnic Institute from 1895 to 1897 but left school to begin a manufacturing business and did not graduate....

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Levy, David (02 January 1913–25 January 2000), advertising and broadcasting executive, television producer, and writer, was one of twin sons born to Benjamin Levy, an accountant, and Lillian Potash Levy of Philadelphia. He excelled as a student, especially in mathematics and writing, both of which would remain lifelong pursuits. An economics major at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, he received a B.S. degree in 1934 and an M.B.A. in 1935....

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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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McLendon, Gordon Barton (08 June 1921–14 September 1986), broadcasting innovator and businessman, was born in Paris, Texas, the son of Barton McLendon, a motion picture theater owner, and Jeanette Eyster. Exposed at an early age to the entertainment business through his father’s chain of motion picture theaters in Texas and Oklahoma, Gordon also spent hours in front of the family radio entranced by the sportscasts of ...

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Newhouse, Samuel Irving (24 May 1895–29 August 1979), newspaper publisher and media mogul, was born Solomon Irving Newhaus in New York City, the son of Meier Neuhaus, a garment worker, and Rose Arenfeldt. His father, an immigrant from near Vitebsk in Russia, did not fare well in the United States and eventually left his wife and eight children to seek a healthier climate in Arizona. As the eldest child, Samuel became the head of the household....

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Paley, William S. (28 September 1901–26 October 1990), broadcasting executive, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Samuel Paley, a cigar manufacturer, and Goldie Drell. Paley received a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1922. He then went into his family’s successful cigar business. In 1927 he became interested in broadcasting when his family business began advertising over a Philadelphia radio station. In 1928, when the financially troubled Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, then consisting of twenty-two affiliates and sixteen employees, came up for sale, the Paley family purchased it for $400,000. It was renamed the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), with William Paley as its president....

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Phillips, Sam (05 January 1923–30 July 2003), record producer and radio entrepreneur, was born Samuel Cornelius Phillips on a two-hundred-acre farm near Florence, Alabama, the last of eight children of Charles Tucker Phillips and Madge Ella Lovelace Phillips, tenant farmers. The Phillips family, like others trying to survive the Great Depression, struggled. While picking cotton alongside impoverished black laborers, the youngest Phillips gained an appreciation for African-American music that would define his life and career....

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David Sarnoff. Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach, c. 1939–1941. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92231).