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Hays, Lee Elhardt (14 March 1914–26 August 1981), songwriter, singer, and political activist, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of the Reverend William Benjamin Hays, a Methodist minister, and Ellen Reinhardt, a court reporter. The youngest of four children, Lee Hays left home at age fourteen for Emory Junior College Academy in Oxford, Georgia, a Methodist prep school from which he graduated in 1930. He had hoped to take a bachelor’s degree, but during the depression none of his family members could help with tuition....

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Will Hays [left to right] Will Rogers and Will Hays, c. 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-83080).

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Hays, Will H. (05 November 1879–07 March 1954), motion picture industry official, lawyer, and politician, was born William Harrison Hays in Sullivan, Indiana, the son of John T. Hays, an attorney, and Mary Cain. He graduated from Indiana’s all-male Wabash College in 1900 and privately studied law. Upon passing the Indiana bar, Hays opened a law office in Sullivan and became city attorney. He moved through a variety of political offices in Indiana before he was named chairman of the Republican National Committee in June 1918. When ...

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Means, Russell Charles (10 November 1939–22 October 2012), Oglala/Yankton activist, American Indian Movement leader, and actor, was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the eldest son of Walter “Hank” Means (Oglala Lakota) of Pine Ridge and Theodora Louise Feather (Yankton), of the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. His father worked as an auto mechanic for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Pine Ridge. His mother served as secretary to the superintendent of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Following the matrilineal ways of the Sioux (the term used to refer collectively to the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota), Russell Means was raised by his mother’s extended family. The Means family relocated to Vallejo, California, in 1942. They moved to Huron, South Dakota, at the end of World War II, only to return to Vallejo soon thereafter, where Walter worked as a welder in the navy shipyards, and Theodora took a position as a secretary at an air force base. In 1954 the Means family bought a home in the Oakland area....

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Murphy, George (04 July 1902–03 May 1992), actor, dancer, and politician, was born George Lloyd Murphy in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Michael Murphy, a university and olympic track coach, and Nora Long. In his autobiography Murphy called his family “close-knit” and “dominated by a loving father who constantly demanded the best of us.” His father died in 1913 and in 1917, at the age of fifteen he ran away from home after his mother’s death with the intention of joining the navy in order to serve in World War I. He returned shortly after, finished high school, and attended Yale University. Discontented with school, Murphy left Yale in his junior year and worked in a number of occupations from toolmaking to coal loading before his girlfriend, Julie Johnson (real name Juliette Henkel), taught him to dance....

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G. David Schine. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Schine, G. David (11 September 1927–19 June 1996), government official and businessman, was born Gerard David Schine, the son of J. Myer Morris Schine, millionaire owner of radio stations, movie theaters, and hotels, and Hildegarde Feldman Schine. After graduating from Harvard in 1949, Schine was appointed by his father to be president of his own company, Schine Hotels Inc....

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Valenti, Jack (05 September 1921–26 April 2007), advertising executive, presidential adviser, motion picture industry executive and lobbyist, was born Jack Joseph Valenti in Houston and grew up in southeastern Texas. Both his parents, Joe and Josephine Valenti, were the children of Sicilian immigrants. He graduated from Sam Houston High School in Houston at age fifteen and attended night school at the University of Houston. During World War II, he flew more than fifty bombing missions over enemy territory in Germany and Italy. After the war, he continued his education, graduating from the University of Houston in 1946. He used the GI Bill to earn an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1948 and then joined Humble Oil and Refining Company to work in advertising and promotion....