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Fisher, Carrie (21 Oct. 1956–27 Dec. 2016), actress and writer, was born Carrie Frances Fisher in Beverly Hills, California, to Eddie Fisher, a popular singer and the grandson of Russian-Jewish immigrants, and Debbie Reynolds, a Hollywood actress whose forebears were Anglo-Saxon Protestants of modest means. At the time of Carrie’s birth, Fisher and Reynolds, who had married to great fanfare a year earlier, were a celebrated young couple, labeled “America’s sweethearts” by the media. The public doted on newspaper and magazine coverage as well as film footage of the seemingly perfect couple and their adorable little daughter. The arrival little more than a year later of a son, Todd, only enhanced their image....

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Goodwin, Ruby Berkley (17 October 1903–31 May 1961), actress and author, was born in Du Quoin, Illinois, the daughter of Braxton Berkley, a coal miner and union organizer, and Sophia Jane Holmes, who had nine other children. She graduated from high school there and, in 1920, moved with her parents to Imperial Valley in California. She attended San Diego State Teachers’ College for one year and later taught in El Centro, where, in 1924, she married Lee Goodwin, an auto mechanic. They had five children and adopted another. In 1931 the Goodwin family moved to Fullerton, where she attended Fullerton Junior College, held various jobs, and was extensively involved in civic organizations. From 1936 to 1952 she worked as personal secretary to actress ...

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Cornelia Otis Skinner Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1913. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0395-B).

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Skinner, Cornelia Otis (30 May 1901–09 July 1979), author and actress, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Otis Skinner, a matinee idol, and Maud Durbin, an actress. After Skinner’s mother retired from acting in 1906, the family moved to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where Otis Skinner resided when he was not performing. In 1920 Skinner left Bryn Mawr College during her sophomore year to study in Paris. She attended the Sorbonne and studied acting at the Comédie Francaise and the Jacques Copeau School. Returning to the United States, Skinner landed her first dramatic role in the stage adaptation of Blasco-Ibanez’s ...