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Mel Allen Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112027).

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Allen, Mel (14 February 1913–16 June 1996), sportscaster, was born Melvin Allen Israel in Birmingham, Alabama, the eldest child of Julius Israel and Anna Leib Israel. His parents were Russian immigrants who made their home in the small town of Johns, outside Birmingham. Julius Israel ran a general store in Johns and later sold women's apparel to support his family, which included Melvin's younger brother and sister. The elder Israel moved his family to various small towns in Alabama and to Greensboro, North Carolina, while he pursued his selling career; by Melvin's early teens the family had settled in Birmingham....

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Red Barber. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112032).

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Barber, Red (17 February 1908–22 October 1992), sports broadcaster, was born Walter Lanier Barber in Columbus, Mississippi, the son of William Lanier Barber, a storytelling locomotive engineer, and Selena Martin, a teacher and grammarian whose family ran the local newspaper. When Red was ten years old, the Barbers moved to Sanford, Florida, after a boll weevil invasion destroyed the Mississippi cotton crop and hence the state’s economy. In Sanford, a truck-farming area north of Orlando, Barber played football and baseball, ran track, and graduated in 1926 at the top of his high school class. The namesake and distant relative of the poet ...

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Beatty, Bessie (27 January 1886–06 April 1947), radio broadcaster, journalist, and author, was born Elizabeth M. Beatty in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Thomas Edward Beatty and Jane Mary Boxwell. Her parents had immigrated from Ireland to the Midwest and then to Los Angeles, where Thomas Beatty became a director of the first electric street railroad in the city. In 1903 Bessie Beatty matriculated at the Highland Park campus of Occidental College, determined to be a writer. She was active in campus literary societies and wrote several articles for student publications before taking a position in her senior year as a reporter for the ...

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Rudi Blesh. © William P. Gottlieb; used by permission. William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress (LC-GLB13-0992 DLC).

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Blesh, Rudi (21 January 1899–25 August 1985), writer, record producer, and broadcaster, was born Rudolph Pickett Blesh in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, the son of Abraham Lincoln Blesh, a doctor, and Theodora Bell Pickett, a piano teacher. In 1910 a family visit to Vienna stimulated Blesh’s interest in the arts, and consequently, he learned to play the piano, the violin, and the cello. Although his musical activities were restricted to the classical repertory at home, Blesh was impressed by the ragtime pianists who performed in Guthrie....

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Caray, Harry (14 March 1914?–18 February 1998), baseball broadcaster, was born Harry Christopher Carabina in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Christopher Carabina and Daisy Argint. Although most sources claim 1 March, in either 1919 or 1920, as his birthdate, Caray's birth certificate, examined by the ...

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Boake Carter. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Carter, Boake (28 September 1898–16 November 1944), broadcast journalist, was born Harold Thomas Henry Carter in Baku, then part of Russia (now the capital of Azerbaijan), the son of Thomas Carter, an oilman and British consul in that city, and Edith Harwood-Yarred Carter. He was educated at boarding schools in England and then spent a brief interval at Cambridge University, where he wrote for a student newspaper. Carter was impatient to enter the oil business with his father, and while making preparations to do so he worked as a stringer for the ...

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Clapper, Raymond Lewis (30 May 1892–01 February 1944), journalist and radio commentator, was born near La Cygne, Kansas, the son of John William Clapper and Julia Crowe, farmers. Shortly after his birth Clapper’s family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where his father worked in packinghouse factories. His parents, hardworking but poor, showed little interest in books, politics, or the world outside their strict, religious home life, which was supplemented only by regular attendance at the Baptist church. Through grade school Clapper avidly read newspapers, including the ...

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Howard Cosell Left, with Muhammad Ali on WABC radio's "Speaking of Everything with Howard Cosell." Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-120434).

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Cosell, Howard (25 March 1920–23 April 1995), radio and television sportscaster, was born Howard William Cohen in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants Isidore (or Isadore) Cohen and Nellie (maiden name unknown). Cosell’s father, an accountant at a credit clothier, moved his family to Brooklyn, New York, where Howard attended public schools. He graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School with an outstanding academic record in 1938. Cosell, who ran track and played varsity basketball, served as the sports editor of the high school newspaper. After graduating from high school, he wanted to become a newspaper reporter, but his parents persuaded him to pursue a law career instead....

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Davis, Elmer (13 January 1890–18 May 1958), author, journalist, and radio commentator, was born Elmer Holmes Davis in Aurora, Indiana, the son of Elam H. Davis, a cashier for the First National Bank of Aurora, and Louise Severin, principal at the local high school. Described by a childhood friend as an avid reader, Davis began his long career with newspapers the summer after his freshman year in high school by obtaining a job as a printer’s devil for the ...

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Dizzy Dean Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-29523).

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Dean, Dizzy (16 January 1910–17 July 1974), baseball player, coach, and broadcaster, was born Jay Hanna Dean in Lucas, Arkansas, the son of Albert Dean and Alma Nelson, both migrant workers. “Dizzy,” a nickname he acquired from his zany antics, had a younger brother, Paul, who also pitched in the major leagues. There has been some uncertainty about Dean’s birthdate, birthplace, and baptismal name. According to Dean, the biographical confusion might stem from the fact that he liked to give every reporter a scoop. Dean said his other name, Jerome Herman, was adopted when he was seven years old. A playmate by that name died, and to console the boy’s father, Dean said that he would take the youth’s name as his own....

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Eisler, Gerhart (20 February 1897–21 March 1968), Communist journalist and politician, was born in Leipzig, Germany, the son of Rudolf Eisler, a philosopher, and Marie Ida Fischer. Eisler grew up in Vienna, Austria, where his father was an assistant professor without tenure (Privatdozent) at the university. The socialist sympathies of his parents, his own studies in anarchist and Marxist literature, writing for his school journal, and eventually his experiences as a young officer during World War I were all factors that influenced Eisler’s future. He was active in the revolution in November 1918 and joined the Communist party of German-Austria....

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Eliot, George Fielding (22 June 1894–21 April 1971), author and journalist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Philip Park Eliot and Rena King. His mother died when he was three; five years later his father, a marine insurance broker, married again and, in pursuit of a business opportunity, moved the family to Australia. After attending school at Montclair Academy in New Jersey and in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, young Eliot entered Trinity College, University of Melbourne, from which he graduated in 1914....

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Curt Gowdy the dean of network sportscasters, shown on 15 September 1978. Associated Press

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Gowdy, Curt (31 July 1919–20 February 2006), sportscaster, was born in Green River, Wyoming, to Edward Curtis Gowdy, a devoted fly fisherman and outdoorsman and dispatcher for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Ruth Smith. Curt grew up in Cheyenne.

Gowdy loved to fly-fish for trout with his father and eagerly listened to infant radio, where the announcer ...