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Blackton, James Stuart (05 January 1875–13 August 1941), motion picture pioneer, was born in Sheffield, England, the son of Henry Blackton, a carriage maker, and Jessie Stuart. After the family moved to the United States in 1886, Blackton worked several years as a carpenter while taking night classes at City College of New York. He then became an illustrator and reporter for the ...

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Dietz, Howard (08 September 1896–30 July 1983), lyricist and publicity director, was born in New York City, the son of Herman Dietz, a jeweler, and Julia Blumberg. While a student at Townsend Harris Hall, a public high school for unusually able students, Dietz took a job as a copyboy on a newspaper, the ...

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Giannini, Attilio Henry (02 March 1874–07 February 1943), physician, banker, and motion picture executive, was born in San Jose, California, the son of Italian immigrants Luigi Giannini and Virginia Demartini, farmers and ranchers. After the fatal shooting of his father by a disgruntled employee in August 1876, Giannini’s mother took over management of their Alviso, California, farm. She married Lorenzo Scatena, and in June 1880 the family moved to San Francisco. While Scatena developed a wholesale produce business, L. Scatena & Co., Giannini attended Washington Grammar School in North Beach....

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Edna Hopper Seated in her berth on a train. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95412).

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Hopper, Edna Wallace (17 January 1864?–14 December 1959), actress, entrepreneur, and financier, was born and raised in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Walter Wallace. (Her mother’s identity is unknown.) Little is verifiable about her early years, except that she was educated at the Van Ness Seminary, as public records were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. She began her stage career on a whim when, at a reception, she met and charmed comedian Roland Reed into issuing her an invitation to join his company. In August 1891 she made her debut as Mabel Douglas in the musical comedy ...

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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....