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Adams, Don (13 April 1923–25 September 2005), comedian and actor, was born Donald James Yarmy in New York City, the second of the three children of William Yarmy, a restaurant manager, and Consuelo Morgan. Adams, who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, liked to read and draw but had an aversion to New York public schools. Much of his youth was spent frequenting the movie theaters on 42nd Street, where he believed he received a better education. At parties he and his neighborhood friends, a number of whom also forged careers in show business, tried to top each other performing comic bits. Adams's forte became impersonations of the Hollywood stars of the day....

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Don Adams. With Barbara Feldon, on the set of the spoof spy showGet Smart, 10 September 1965. Courtesy of AP Images.

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Agronsky, Martin (12 January 1915–25 July 1999), broadcast journalist and commentator, was born Martin Zama Agronsky, the son of Isador Agronsky and Marcia Dvorin Agronsky, Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Russia (now Belarus). Born and raised in Philadelphia, he attended public schools and studied journalism at Rutgers University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1936. On graduating, Agronsky traveled to Jerusalem to take a job as a reporter with the ...

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Alexanderson, Ernst Fredrik Werner (25 January 1878–14 May 1975), engineer and radio and television pioneer, was born in Uppsala, Sweden, the son of Aron Martin Alexanderson, a professor, and Amelie von Heidenstam. From an early age Alexanderson showed interest in things scientific, and so he was sent to the Royal Institute of Technology at Stockholm, where he studied engineering, graduating in 1900. The Royal Institute had no specific program in electrical engineering, which was Alexanderson’s major interest, and so he spent the following year at the Königliche Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, Germany, then one of the best engineering schools of Europe. Here for the first time Alexanderson became acquainted with contemporary work in electromagnetics and wireless communication....

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Amory, Cleveland (02 September 1917–14 October 1998), writer and animal rights advocate, was born in Nahant, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Amory, a textile manufacturer, and his wife, Leonore Cobb Amory. Both parents were descendants of long-established upper-class families in Boston, where Cleveland grew up in a privileged household. He was educated at private schools, including Milton Academy, and enrolled at Harvard in 1935. After graduating four years later, he worked briefly as a reporter for the ...

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Cleveland Amory Standing next to a display case containing a variety of chess sets, 1962. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112709).

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Blake, Harrison Gray Otis (10 April 1816–18 April 1898), teacher and editor, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Blake, a successful lawyer, and Elizabeth Augusta Chandler. His father’s death before Blake’s first birthday sharply reduced the family’s living standard. Blake graduated from Harvard College in 1835, ranking fourth and giving the Latin Salutatory Oration. Three years’ study in Harvard’s Divinity School ensued, during which he encountered the religious and ethical philosophy of the Transcendentalists. In 1838 a committee of Blake and two senior theology classmates invited ...

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Boyd, Julian Parks (03 November 1903–28 May 1980), documentary editor and historian, was born in Converse, South Carolina, the son of Robert J. Boyd, a railroad telegrapher, and Melona Parks. After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree from Duke University in 1925, he earned a master’s degree in political science from that institution in 1926 and then spent 1926–1927 as instructor and principal at Alliance High School in North Carolina; in 1927–1928 he did further graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. In December 1927 he married Grace Wiggins Welch; the couple had one son....

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David Brinkley. January 1989. Courtesy of AP Images.

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Brinkley, David (10 July 1920–11 June 2003), broadcast journalist, was born David McClure Brinkley in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son of William Graham Brinkley, a railroad worker, and Mary MacDonald West. Brinkley's father died when the boy was eight, leaving him in the care of a dour, deeply religious mother. Brinkley, seeking escape through reading, spent hours at the Wilmington Public Library. He also enjoyed writing. Encouraged by his high school English teacher, Brinkley worked part‐time at Wilmington's afternoon newspaper, the ...

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Caesar, Sid (8 Sept. 1922–12 Feb. 2014), television comedy star, was born Isaac Sidney Caesar in Yonkers, New York, the youngest of three surviving sons of Max Ziser, a Jew who emigrated from Austria, and his Russian-born wife, Ida Raphael Ziser. As a young boy Sid amused factory workers in his father’s greasy spoon, the St. Claire Buffet and Luncheonette, with Italian, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian double talk. At eleven, Sid learned to play the saxophone, and he made six dollars a week playing in Mike Cifficello’s Swingtime Six while a student at Yonkers High School....

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John Chancellor Left, dividing a map of political news coverage with Sander Vanocur, far right, and Frank McGee, kneeling, c. 1962. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-115925).

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Chancellor, John (14 July 1927–12 July 1996), television reporter, anchorman, commentator, and documentarian, was born John William Chancellor and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of E. M. J. Chancellor and Mary Barrett Chancellor, hoteliers. Despite comfortable middle-class circumstances and a pronounced appetite for learning, he had little patience with formal education, preferring to adventure into such blue-collar jobs as carpenter's assistant and Mississippi riverboat deckhand while still a teenager....

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Clark, Dick (30 November 1929–18 April 2012), television host, was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Bronxville, New York, the second of three children, to Richard A. Clark and Julia Barnard. During Dick’s childhood the family lived in Mt. Vernon, a suburb of New York City, and his father commuted to Manhattan daily for his job as a sales manager for a cosmetics company. The death of his older brother in World War II was a devastating loss for the family, particularly for young Dick, who idolized him....

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Collingwood, Charles Cummings (04 June 1917–03 October 1985), broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent, was born in Three Rivers, Michigan, the son of George Harris Collingwood, a professor and forester, and Jean Grinnell Cummings. In 1935 Collingwood spent two years at Deep Springs College in Death Valley, California, an experimental school modeled on the Oxford system. In 1937 Collingwood transferred to Cornell, where he graduated cum laude in 1939. The same year he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship. In 1940, while attending Oxford University, he worked for the United Press wire service. In March 1941 he was invited by ...

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Howard Cosell Left, with Muhammad Ali on WABC radio's "Speaking of Everything with Howard Cosell." Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-120434).

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Cosell, Howard (25 March 1920–23 April 1995), radio and television sportscaster, was born Howard William Cohen in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants Isidore (or Isadore) Cohen and Nellie (maiden name unknown). Cosell’s father, an accountant at a credit clothier, moved his family to Brooklyn, New York, where Howard attended public schools. He graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School with an outstanding academic record in 1938. Cosell, who ran track and played varsity basketball, served as the sports editor of the high school newspaper. After graduating from high school, he wanted to become a newspaper reporter, but his parents persuaded him to pursue a law career instead....

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Emerson, Edward Waldo (10 July 1844–27 January 1930), editor and writer, was born in Concord, Massachusetts, the son of the essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and his second wife, Lidian “Lydia” Jackson. Concord was to remain Emerson’s lifelong place of residence. He was of a slight build and subject throughout life to various illnesses, at times debilitating. His ambition as a young man was to enlist as a cavalryman in one of the many regiments then forming in Massachusetts, but his health was precarious and he had been discouraged moreover by his mother’s decree that one should not consider enlisting so long as the cause was to preserve the Union rather than to emancipate the slaves. Emerson’s alternative was to enter Harvard as an undergraduate in August 1861 only to find after six weeks that “he had no strength for College,” as a sister reported, “and is at home again trying to get well … doing nothing but ride on horseback when he is able, and amuse himself with society and painting or lying down when he isn’t, and his papa is brokenhearted that College is lost” (...

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Farnsworth, Philo Taylor (19 August 1906–11 March 1971), electronic television inventor, was born in Indian Creek (now Manderfield), near Beaver, Utah, the son of Lewis Edwin Farnsworth and Serena Amanda Bastian, farmers. After moving several times, the family eventually settled on a ranch near Rigby, Idaho. As a boy, Farnsworth became fascinated by the photoelectric cell and the cathode-ray tube, and at the age of fifteen he devised a system for the all-electronic transmissions of images over distances (that is, television) by combining the two devices. In February 1922 he showed a sketch of his design to his high school chemistry teacher, who provided key testimony more than a decade later in a television priority patent suit Farnsworth launched against the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). After high school Farnsworth joined the navy but was discharged on the advice of the base chaplain so that he might continue his academic studies. To support himself while pursuing his engineering training, Farnsworth established a radio repair shop in Salt Lake City in 1926 in partnership with Clifford Gardner. Their small business enabled him to enroll in courses at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. On 27 May 1926 he married Elma “Pem” Gardner, sister of his partner. The couple had four children....

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Fitzpatrick, John Clement (10 August 1876–10 February 1940), archivist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of James Nicholas Fitzpatrick, a financial clerk of the U.S. Senate, and Elizabeth Ann Combs. He graduated from Washington High School in 1894 and for three years worked as a journalist for the ...