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Abbey, Henry Eugene (27 June 1846–17 October 1896), theatrical and operatic manager and impresario, was born in Akron, Ohio, the son of Henry Stephen Abbey, a clockmaker and partner in a jewelry business, and Elizabeth Smith. After graduating with honors from Akron High School, where he showed a keen interest in music, Abbey worked in his father’s jewelry store until he launched his artistic management career in 1869 at the Sumner Opera House in Akron. In 1871 he became manager of the newly opened Akron Academy of Music, where he stayed for one season before moving to work first at John Ellsler’s Euclid Avenue Opera House in Cleveland and then as treasurer of the Ellsler Opera House in Pittsburgh. While still in Akron, Abbey and Ellsler managed the tours of the singing and dancing Worrell Sisters, ...

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Barnabee, Henry Clay (14 November 1833–16 December 1917), singer and actor, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Willis Barnabee and Mary (maiden name unknown). His father was a stagecoach driver who became an innkeeper. Willis Barnabee’s wife was cook, and his adolescent son Henry was odd-jobs man and at times bartender....

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Rudi Blesh. © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB13-0992 DLC).

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Blesh, Rudi (21 January 1899–25 August 1985), writer, record producer, and broadcaster, was born Rudolph Pickett Blesh in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, the son of Abraham Lincoln Blesh, a doctor, and Theodora Bell Pickett, a piano teacher. In 1910 a family visit to Vienna stimulated Blesh’s interest in the arts, and consequently, he learned to play the piano, the violin, and the cello. Although his musical activities were restricted to the classical repertory at home, Blesh was impressed by the ragtime pianists who performed in Guthrie....

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Charlot, André (26 July 1882–20 May 1956), theatrical impresario, was born Eugene André Maurice Charlot in Paris, France, the son of Maurice Charlot, a journalist and theatrical manager, and Sargine Battu. After failing his exams at Paris’s Lycée Condorcet, Charlot gave up his dream of being a composer like his prizewinning grandfather and undertook an apprenticeship in Paris in theater management and public relations. In 1912 he assumed the managership of London’s Alhambra Theatre, anglicizing French spectacular topical revue. In 1908 he married Florence Gladman, one-half of an English sister act; they had two children....

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Goldmark, Peter Carl (02 December 1906–07 December 1977), inventor, was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of Alexander Goldmark, a hatmaker, and Emmy (maiden name unknown). In 1919 Goldmark’s family fled to Vienna, Austria, to escape the Communist revolution in Hungary. Goldmark studied for a year at the Berlin Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, Germany, and then transferred to the Physical Institute of Vienna, where he received his B.Sc. in 1930 and his Ph.D. in physics in 1931....

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Hammond, John Henry, Jr. (15 December 1910–10 July 1987), critic and producer of jazz and popular music, was born in New York City, the son of John Henry Hammond, corporate lawyer, and Emily Vanderbilt Sloane. Born to privilege, Hammond used his wealth and position, along with considerable resourcefulness and conviction, to promote primarily black music through the 1940s in ways that profoundly influenced its development and international acceptance. He later branched out to produce important folk and rock recordings....

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Hay, George Dewey (09 November 1895–08 May 1968), radio announcer, writer, and country music promoter, was born in Attica, Indiana, the son of George Hay, a jeweler and merchant, and Bertha Dewey. Growing up amid the cornfields of rural Indiana, Hay absorbed the ...

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Pastor, Tony (28 May 1832–26 August 1908), variety performer and impresario, was born Antonio Pastori in New York City, the son of Antonio Pastori, a theater violinist who also ran a fruit store and barber shop, and his wife (name unknown), who ran a perfumery and, for ten years after her husband’s death, a saloon. Pastor attended New York public schools, but by age eleven he was singing for a temperance group. At thirteen he was a blackface minstrel. In 1846 his father hoped to stop his career by sending him to live on a farm, but by the year’s end he was an “infant prodigy” at Barnum’s Museum in New York. Apprenticed to a circus, Pastor learned tumbling, riding, and mimicry; he became a clown and developed a “rube” act. From 1851 till its collapse in 1853 he was the Nathans-Sands Circus’s ringmaster....

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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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Redpath, James (24 August 1833–10 February 1891), journalist and entertainment impresario, was born in Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, the son of Ninian Davidson Redpath, a teacher, and Maria Main. After being educated in his father’s academy, Redpath emigrated with his family to the United States in 1849 and soon found work as a reporter for ...

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Stein, Jules Caesar (26 April 1896–29 April 1981), entertainment executive and physician, was born in South Bend, Indiana, the son of Louis M. Stein and Rosa Cohen. His extraordinary achievements began in the classroom. A student at West Virginia University while still in his early teens, he graduated from the University of Chicago at the age of nineteen. His medical degree was earned at Rush Medical College, Chicago, in 1921. He acquired a specialty in ophthalmology at the Eye Clinic of the University of Vienna and first practiced this as chief resident in ophthalmology at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and subsequently in an affiliation with Dr. Harry Gradle, also of Chicago. His depth of knowledge is revealed in “Telescopic Spectacles and Magnifiers as Aids to Poor Vision” (1924), which quickly became the definitive manual in this specialty....

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Wikoff, Henry (1811?–28 April 1884), author, publisher, and impresario, , kept the secret of his birthdate and parentage throughout his life. His guardian, Samuel Price Wetherwill, may have been his father; some contemporary accounts claimed he was the son of a Philadelphia doctor also named Henry Wikoff. Whatever the circumstances of his birth, money was available to provide Wikoff with a good education. He entered Yale in 1827 but was dismissed before he graduated. He eventually graduated from Union College in 1832. He also studied law and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1834....