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Backus, Jim (25 February 1913–03 July 1989), actor, comedian, and author, was born James Gilmore Backus in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Russell Gould Backus, a mechanical engineer and president of a local heavy-machinery company, and Daisy Gilmore-Taylor. They lived in Bratenahl, an upper-class borough of Cleveland. Jim attended the Bratenahl School, then as a teenager went to Kentucky Military Institute, but when he tried to enlist, the army rejected him, telling him that he had a vertical stomach and would have to eat six times a day to stay nourished. However, at school he began a lifelong friendship with fellow cadet and future movie actor ...

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Berg, Gertrude (03 October 1899–14 September 1966), actress, writer, and producer of radio and television programs, was born Gertrude Edelstein in the Harlem district of New York City, the daughter of Jacob Edelstein, a Catskills resort hotel owner, and Diana Netta Goldstein, a bookkeeper and hotel kitchen manager. She was educated in public schools and showed interest in acting as a child, performing comic skits at her father’s hotel. As a teenager, she took several extension courses in playwriting at Columbia University. In 1918 she married Lewis Berg, a mechanical engineer, whose work took the couple to a sugar refinery in Reserve, Louisiana. In 1921 they returned to New York, where they would live for the rest of their lives. The couple had two children....

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Leonard, Sheldon (22 February 1907–10 January 1997), performer, director, producer, and writer, primarily for television, radio, and film, was born Sheldon Leonard Bershad in New York City, the only child of Frank Bershad, a salesman, and Anna Levitt Bershad, an immigrant from Russia whose father had been a scribe to the Romanoff court. The family lived in the polyglot Morrisania section of the Bronx except for a period of three years during Leonard's early teens, when they lived in Belleville, New Jersey. In his autobiography Leonard describes Belleville as a "WASPy suburb" that made him self-conscious of the urban working-class accent and mannerisms that would become his trademarks as a performer as well as his Jewish background....