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Nat King Cole © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB23-0151 DLC).


Cole, Nat King (17 March 1919–15 February 1965), pianist and singer, was born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama, the son of the Reverend Edward James Coles, Sr., and Perlina Adams, a musician. Cole’s family moved to Chicago when he was four. He first studied piano with his mother, then with bassist Milt Hinton’s mother, and at the age of twelve, classical piano with a Professor Thomas. The family home was located near the Grand Terrace Ballroom, where Cole often heard his first and most important influence, pianist ...


Liberace (16 May 1919–04 February 1987), entertainer, was born Wladziu Valentino Liberace in West Allis, Wisconsin, the son of Salvatore (Sam) Liberace, an often unemployed french horn player, and Frances Zuchowski, a coproprietor of a mom-and-pop grocery store. Liberace, called Walter at home, was a sole-surviving twin and the third of four children. By the age of four he could play by ear and at seven performed Paderewski’s Minuet in G for the composer, who advised the family to take the boy’s talent seriously. A scholarship to the Wisconsin College of Music in Milwaukee was awarded him in 1926....


McPartland, Marian (20 March 1918–20 August 2013), jazz pianist and broadcaster, was born Margaret Marian Turner in Windsor, England, the older of two daughters of Frank Turner, a civil engineer, and Janet Payne. In the first decades of her career McPartland gave her birth date as 1920. Later she became proud of her age and gave out the true year. She persistently gave her birthplace as Slough, England, but her Eton registration district birth certificate gives Windsor, adjacent to Slough (her first home). Although she would live much of her life in America, McPartland never relinquished English citizenship....