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Lucille Ball. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106047).

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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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Walt Disney. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114742).

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Disney, Walt (05 December 1901–15 December 1966), animator and motion picture producer, was born Walter Elias Disney in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elias Disney, a building contractor, and Flora Call, a teacher. After a childhood near Marceline and in Kansas City, Missouri, Disney studied at the Chicago Institute of Art in the evening while attending McKinley High School during the day. In 1918 he enlisted in the American Ambulance Corps, serving in France and returning to employment as an artist at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where he befriended artist ...

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Tartikoff, Brandon (13 January 1949–27 August 1997), television and movie executive, was born in Freeport, Long Island, New York, the son of Jordan Tartikoff, a clothing manufacturer, and Enid Tartikoff (maiden name unknown), a marketing executive. He grew up in what he called a “perfectly symmetrical 1950s sitcom family” and, like many children of his era (and of later times), spent his evenings glued to the television set. When Tartikoff became an adolescent, his parents feared he was neglecting his schoolwork, so they sent him to preparatory school in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he excelled in sports and other extracurricular activities. After graduation in 1966, he attended Yale University, majoring first in economics but later switching to English. When Tartikoff told his writing seminar instructor, the novelist and poet ...