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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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Bankhead, Tallulah (31 January 1902–12 December 1968), actress, was born into an illustrious political family in Huntsville, Alabama, the daughter of William Bankhead, a U.S. representative and, from 1936 to 1940, Speaker of the House, and Adelaide Eugenia Sledge. Shortly after Bankhead’s birth her mother died, and Tallulah was sent to Jasper, Alabama, to be raised by grandparents and occasionally by her father. Though the family was Episcopalian, Bankhead and her elder sister, Eugenia, were educated at Catholic girls’ schools in Virginia, New York, Washington, D.C., and Alabama. At an early age Bankhead displayed the flamboyant personality for which she became famous....

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Brice, Fanny (29 October 1891–29 May 1951), comedienne and singer, was born Fania Borach in New York City, the daughter of Charles Borach, a bartender, and Rose Stern. The third of four children, all born on New York’s Lower East Side, she was raised in a Newark, New Jersey, middle-class home complete with household servants and material comforts. Her parents separated in 1902, and Rose moved the family to St. Marks Place in Brooklyn, New York, where Fanny got the remnants of her formal education at public schools....

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Brothers, Joyce (20 October 1927–13 May 2013), psychologist, television and radio personality, and columnist, was born Joyce Diane Bauer in Brooklyn, New York, to Morris K. Bauer and Estelle Rappaport Bauer, a Jewish couple who shared a law practice. She and sister, Elaine, were raised in Queens, where Joyce was an honors student at Far Rockaway High School....

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Daniels, Bebe (14 January 1901–16 March 1971), entertainer, was born Phyllis Bebe Daniels in Dallas, Texas, the daughter of Danny Daniels (Melville Daniel MacMeal), the actor-manager of a traveling stock theater company, and Phyllis Griffin, his leading lady. From birth Daniels was called “Bebe,” which means baby in Spanish, reflecting her mother’s Spanish ancestry. Daniels first appeared onstage when she was only ten weeks old, and she performed in her first Shakespearean production at the age of four. After her father left the family around 1907–1908, Daniels’s mother took her to Los Angeles, California. She played child roles onstage until a new labor law was passed. In 1910 she made her silent film debut in ...

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Faye, Alice (05 May 1915–09 May 1998), singing actress, was born Alice Jeanne Leppert in New York to Charley Leppert, a policeman, and his wife Alice Moffat Leppert. Educated in New York schools and lying about her age, she began her professional career in 1928 as a dancer for the Chester Hale Troupe and the night-club entrepreneur Nils Thor Granlund. Faye (who legally changed her name in 1935) was a chorine in the eleventh ...

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Hopper, Hedda (02 May 1885–01 February 1966), actress and gossip columnist, was born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of David E. Furry, a butcher, and Margaret Miller. The fifth of nine children, Hopper attended school until the eighth grade, after which she stayed home to help her mother with the household. She had an early driving desire to be on the stage, spurred by seeing ...

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Mack, Nila (24 October 1891–20 January 1953), radio writer-producer, was born Nila Mac in Arkansas City, Kansas, the daughter of Don Carlos Mac, a railroad engineer credited with the “first run over the tracks to Guthrie in Indian Territory” in 1889, and Margaret Bowen Mac, a dancing teacher. Her father's family name had apparently been MacLoughlin in a dim Scottish past; Nila was to add the “k” to her name when she entered show business. She attended the local high school, played piano for her mother's dancing school as well as at the local open-air theater, and “won 208 cakes in local cake-walking contests.” After her father died as a result of a train derailment in 1907, her mother took her to New York for Chautauqua classes and in 1908 enrolled her at Ferry Hall finishing school in Forest Park, Illinois....

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Edward L. Lach, Jr. and Barbara Bennett Peterson

Meadows, Audrey (08 February 1926–03 February 1996), television personality, actress, and singer, was born Audrey Cotter in Wuchang, China, the daughter of the Reverend Francis James Meadows Cotter, an Episcopal minister, and Ida Taylor Cotter. Her parents had gone to China as Christian missionaries, and until she was five she lived in Wuchang and spoke both Chinese and English. The family returned to the United States in 1931 and first resided in Providence, Rhode Island, where her father had accepted a pastorate at St. John's Protestant Episcopal Cathedral. Following successive pastoral moves to Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the family settled in 1935 in Sharon, Connecticut, where Rev. Cotter was rector of Christ Church until the late 1950s....

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Montgomery, Elizabeth (15 April 1933–18 May 1995), actress, was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Robert Montgomery, a handsome actor, and Elizabeth Allen Bryan Montgomery, a beautiful actress. Elizabeth Montgomery graduated from the Spence School for actors and actresses, in New York City, and then studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, also in New York. Following three years of strenuous training, she made her debut in 1951 in “Top Secret,” a segment of “Robert Montgomery Presents,” her father's popular television show. By the 1950s, Robert Montgomery was widely known not only as a versatile actor, director, and producer but also as the first president of the Screen Actors Guild (1935–1939) and as a decorated naval combat veteran. He even helped direct ...