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Brady, James Scott (29 August 1940–3 August 2014), presidential press secretary and gun control advocate, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Harold James Brady, a railroad yardmaster, and Dorothy Davidson Brady, a saleswoman and social worker. An only child, Brady made his mark at Centralia Township High School as an athlete, playing football and tennis and participating in track and field. After graduating, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in communications and became the president of the campus Young Republicans. Graduating in ...

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George B. Cortelyou. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92421).

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Cortelyou, George Bruce (26 July 1862–23 October 1940), presidential aide, cabinet secretary, and businessman, was born in New York City, the son of Peter Crolius Cortelyou, a businessman and Rose Seary. Educated at public and private schools, he graduated from the Massachusetts State Normal School in 1882. He studied music in Boston before going back to New York to learn stenography and court reporting. He married Lilly Morris Hinds in 1888; they had five children....

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Stephen R. Early Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107088).

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Early, Stephen Tyree (27 August 1889–11 August 1951), first designated presidential press secretary, was born in Crozet, Virginia, the son of Thomas Joseph Early, a railroad mail clerk, and Ida Virginia Wood. Distantly related to the famed Confederate general Jubal Early, Steve grew up in modest circumstances. His parents depended on his newspaper deliveries to help support their eight children. After graduating from Eastern High School in Washington, D.C., where the family had moved in 1898, he worked as a messenger boy for the Government Printing Office at 15 cents an hour before joining the Washington bureau of the new United Press (UP) wire services in 1907. Early began by writing lively, dramatic news from “pony reports” dictated over the telephone. Within a year he was promoted to reporter and covered the State, War, and Navy departments. In 1912, while covering the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, he met ...

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Hagerty, James Campbell (09 May 1909–11 April 1981), presidential press secretary, was born in Plattsburgh, New York, the son of James A. Hagerty, a journalist, and Katherine Kearney, a schoolteacher. In 1912 the family moved to New York City. Hagerty grew up with an understanding of the media; his father was a political reporter for the ...

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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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George Reedy. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Reedy, George E. (05 August 1917–21 March 1999), author and presidential press secretary, was born in East Chicago, Indiana, the son of George Edward Reedy, a newspaperman, and Mary Mulvaney Reedy. Intellectually curious from an early age, he attended the University of Chicago, where he dabbled in socialism and—according to family lore—learned Greek in order to read Aristotle in the original and thereby “one-up” university president ...

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Ross, Charles Griffith (09 November 1885–05 December 1950), newspaper correspondent, editor, and presidential press secretary, was born in Independence, Missouri, the son of James Bruce Ross, a Jackson County marshal and occasional gold prospector, and Ella Thomas. Charlie’s early passion for storytelling was prompted by a maternal grandmother’s tall tales of the Kansas-Missouri border wars over slavery. Ross finished at the top of his high school class, which also included the future president of the United States, ...

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Salinger, Pierre Emil George (14 June 1925–16 October 2004), journalist and press secretary to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, journalist and press secretary to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, was born in San Francisco, California, the oldest of four boys of Herbert Edgar Salinger, a mining engineer of Jewish descent, and Jehanne Bietry, a French-born journalist who was Catholic. A child prodigy, he could play the piano before he learned to read and performed his first concert at the age of six. He attended the Presidio Open Air School from 1932 to 1937 and then entered Lowell High School, a magnet school in San Francisco, from which he graduated in 1941. That fall he enrolled at San Francisco State College but left a year later to join the navy. As a lieutenant junior grade he served on a submarine chaser in the Pacific and earned navy and marine corps medals for his performance at sea. After the war he entered the University of San Francisco and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the spring of 1947. The previous January he married the first of four wives, Renee Laboure, with whom he had three children....

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Pierre Salinger. Gelatin silver print, 1962, by Yousuf Karsh. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Short, Joseph Hudson, Jr. (11 February 1904–18 September 1952), journalist and presidential press secretary, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the son of Joseph Hudson Short, clerk of the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, and Irene Elizabeth Jones. Friends remember the “tall Short boy” as quiet and meditative, like his father, and interested in a career in the military. Both of his grandfathers had been Civil War veterans, one a civilian clerk on the staff of General ...

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Speakes, Larry Melvin (13 September 1939–10 January 2014), White House press spokesman during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was born in Cleveland, Mississippi, the son of Harry Earl Speakes, a grocer and bank branch manager, and the former Ethlyn Frances Fincher. Speakes grew up in Merigold, Mississippi, in the state’s cotton growing region, and attended Merigold Consolidated School from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Speakes described Merigold as having just seven hundred residents, no street signs, and only one traffic light. But he later said this small-town background allowed him to cultivate the image of a genteel southerner in Washington’s fast-paced political world. In August 1957, just before starting college, he married his high school sweetheart, Jenell Robinson. They had two children....

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Ziegler, Ronald Lewis (12 May 1939–10 February 2003), press secretary to Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, press secretary to Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, was born in Covington, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, to Louis Daniel Ziegler, a metal company production manager, and Ruby Parsons Ziegler, a public health nurse. At six feet, 190 pounds, “Zig” was a solidly built fullback at Dixie Heights High School, and he received a football scholarship to Xavier University in Cincinnati....