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Bricktop (14 August 1894–31 January 1984), entertainer and nightclub operator, was born in Alderson, West Virginia, the daughter of Thomas Smith, a barber, and Hattie E. (maiden name unknown), a domestic worker. Christened Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia, because her parents did not wish to disappoint the various neighbors and friends who offered suggestions for naming her, Bricktop received her nickname because of her red hair when she was in her late twenties from Barron Wilkins, owner of a nightclub called Barron’s Exclusive Club in Prohibition Harlem....

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Durante, Jimmy (10 February 1893–29 January 1980), comedian, was born James Francis Durante on New York City’s East Side, the son of Barthelmeo Durante and Roséa Millino. His French-Italian father operated a barber shop. His mother endowed him with the enormous nose that was to become his trademark. After dropping out of school in the seventh grade, Jimmy tried a variety of odd jobs, but he spent most of his time at a piano his father had bought for him, complete with lessons. Although his father hoped that his son would pursue a classical career, by age seventeen Durante was playing in Diamond Tony’s saloon (“Twenty-five bucks a week; hours from eight in the evening until unconscious”) on Coney Island. Later he played ragtime piano at various clubs and organized a five-man jazz band for a club in Harlem. There he met a singer, Jeanne Olson, whom he hired and, in 1921, married. They had no children. Another new acquaintance was Eddie Jackson, a singer....

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Guinan, Texas (12 January 1884–05 November 1933), nightclub personality, was born Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan in Waco, Texas, the daughter of Michael Guinan, a grocery wholesaler, and Bessie Duffy, both of whom had emigrated to the United States from Quebec, Canada, although their forebears had emigrated to Canada from Dublin, Ireland. Guinan was first married to John J. Moynahan, a Denver newspaper cartoonist, in 1904. It was a brief union and Guinan was on her own again by 1907. She entered show business as a rodeo driver, appeared in an operetta, ...

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Lewis, Ted (06 June 1890–25 August 1971), entertainer, musician, and bandleader, was born Theodore Leopold Friedman in rural Circleville, Ohio, the son of an owner of a dry goods store whose name cannot be ascertained. Young Theodore began his show business career performing in a nickelodeon in his hometown and learned to play the clarinet in his school band. As a beginning clarinetist, Lewis was something of a prodigy. Although he was never regarded seriously as a musician, he played easily and improvised naturally. Having no desire to go into the dry goods business and still in his teens, he went to Columbus, Ohio, where for a time he demonstrated instruments in a music store. His freewheeling improvisations amused customers but eventually caused him to lose the job....

Article

Niblo, William (1789–21 August 1878), restaurateur and theater manager, was born in Ireland. Nothing is known of his father or mother, and little is known of his childhood. Niblo came to the United States at a young age and apprenticed to the proprietor of a coffee house at Forty-three Pine Street in New York City. After rising to a position of responsibility, he married Martha King, the owner’s daughter, and eventually acquired his father-in-law’s business. Niblo’s establishment, which he named the Bank Coffee House, became known for its culinary excellence and genial atmosphere, making it a popular meeting place for merchants....

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G. David Schine. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Schine, G. David (11 September 1927–19 June 1996), government official and businessman, was born Gerard David Schine, the son of J. Myer Morris Schine, millionaire owner of radio stations, movie theaters, and hotels, and Hildegarde Feldman Schine. After graduating from Harvard in 1949, Schine was appointed by his father to be president of his own company, Schine Hotels Inc....