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Alexander, John White (07 October 1856–31 May 1915), artist, was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, the son of John Alexander and Fanny Smith. Alexander’s father died soon after his birth, and his mother died when he was five years old. Sent to live with his maternal grandparents, Alexander left school at the age of twelve to work as a messenger for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company in Pittsburgh. Colonel Edward Jay Allen, an official of the firm, was impressed by a sketch done by Alexander. Allen eventually adopted Alexander....

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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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Enters, Angna (28 April 1897–25 February 1989), dance-mime, painter, and writer, was born Anita Irene Enters in New York City, the daughter of Edward Enters, a businessman, and Henriette Gasseur-Styleau. Angna grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (which she called “New Berlin” because of its large German population), where after graduating with the class of 1915 from North Division High School, she enrolled as an art student at Milwaukee Normal School (now part of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)....

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Jonson, Raymond (18 July 1891–10 May 1982), painter and theater graphic designer, was born Carl Raymond Johnson near Chariton, Iowa, the son of the Reverend Gustav Johnson and Josephine Abrahamson. Jonson was home-schooled until 1899, when he attended his first school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the family lived for a brief period. In 1902 the family settled in Portland, Oregon. Jonson studied at the Portland Art Museum in 1909 with an instructor who had been a student of Arthur Wesley Dow. Jonson moved to Chicago in 1910 to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts. He later enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago....

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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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Pavel Tchelitchew Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1934. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103672).

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Tchelitchew, Pavel (21 September 1898–31 July 1957), painter and stage designer, was born in Kaluga, Russia, near Moscow, the son of Fedor Chelishchev and Nadezhda Permyakov, progressive aristocrats who implemented Tolstoian ideals in caring for the peasants on their vast estates. He received private tutoring and began drawing at an early age, inspired by the illustrations of Gustave Doré. He attended Moscow University from 1916 until 1918 and studied art at Moscow’s Academy. The family fled to Kiev following the Russian Revolution of 1918. Tchelitchew studied at the Kiev Academy under Alexandra Exter, who applied the principles of Russian constructivism to theatrical design. He designed posters and collaborated on a series of music hall productions with Isaac Rabinovitch, an important Soviet stage designer. Around 1919 Tchelitchew’s style began to evolve away from cubist abstraction, employing curving lines and some representational elements....

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Warhol, Andy (06 August 1928–22 February 1987), artist and filmmaker, was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Andrej Warhola, a construction worker, and Julia Zavacky. Warhol’s parents, both of Carpatho-Rusyn extraction, immigrated separately to the United States from the Medzilaborce region of what is now the Slovak Republic, his father in 1913, his mother in 1921. As a youngster, Warhol showed a proficiency in art and attended art appreciation classes at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University). Stricken at the age of nine with St. Vitus’s dance (chorea), he spent at least two months at home and amused himself by drawing. His fascination with movie stars began while he was still young, and by 1939 he was collecting their photographs; according to his brother Paul, he “used to get wax paper and get the comic strip and trace it and get the impression, the picture.”...