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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).


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....


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.”...