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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, ...


Payne, Virginia (1910–10 February 1977), radio actress and entertainment union leader, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Personal information on Payne is scant. She took two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and apparently had given some thought to making her way in the world as a singer. Payne broke into radio on the local station WLW while still in college, playing the part of Honey Adams, a singing southern belle, on a program soon to be known to Americans everywhere as “Ma Perkins.” The program began in a very modest way at the Cincinnati station in the summer of 1933, and then on 4 December 1933 it moved to Chicago, where it became an NBC network program. Within only a year the program became perhaps the prototype of what would be called soap opera but which in the radio industry was called the daytime serial. The identity of Payne had to be kept secret because she was a 23-year-old playing the role of Ma Perkins, a middle-aged woman with grown children, an effect not too hard to achieve on radio for someone with voice training....


Esther Jane Williams. Full-length portrait, seated, wearing a bathing suit, 1945. Photographic print. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-137503).


Williams, Esther Jane (08 August 1921–06 June 2013), movie star, swimming champion, and swimwear executive, was born in a small bungalow in Inglewood, a southwest suburb of Los Angeles, the fifth child born to Bula Myrtle Gilpin, a teacher, and Louis Stanton Williams, a sign painter. The family had followed her brother Stanton to Hollywood from Utah, and he appeared as a child star in silent pictures. Esther's mother took no interest in her, and she was raised by older sister Maurine, who taught her to swim. When Esther was eight years old, Stanton died from a burst colon. She hoped to replace his achievements with her own. At age eleven, Esther won a fifty-meter freestyle race at the Olympic Swim Stadium in Los Angeles. When she was sixteen she began swimming for the Los Angeles Athletic Club. During her teens she was repeatedly raped by an orphaned boy her parents had taken into their house. The water became her sanctuary....