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Studs Terkel

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Biography

Louis “Studs” Terkel (16 May 1912 – 31 October 2008)[1] was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985, and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.

Terkel was born to a Russian Jewish tailor, Samuel Terkel, and Anna Finkelin in New York City, New York. At the age of eight he moved with his family to Chicago, Illinois, where he spent most of his life. He had two brothers, Ben (1907–1965) and Meyer (1905-1958).

From 1926 to 1936, his parents ran a rooming house that was a collecting point for people of all types. Terkel credited his knowledge of the world to the tenants who gathered in the lobby of the hotel and the people who congregated in nearby Bughouse Square. In 1939, he married Ida Goldberg (1912–1999) and they had one son, Dan. Terkel received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1934, but he said that instead of practicing law, he wanted to be a concierge at a hotel and he soon joined a theater group.

Terkel joined the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project, working in radio, doing work that varied from voicing soap opera productions and announcing news and sports, to presenting shows of recorded music and writing radio scripts and advertisements. His well-known radio program, titled The Studs Terkel Program, aired on 98.7 WFMT Chicago between 1952 and 1997. The one-hour program was broadcast each weekday during those forty-five years. On this program, he interviewed guests as diverse as Bob Dylan, Leonard Bernstein, and Alexander Frey.

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  • JoshCIVM

    One of my favorite people. Rest in peace, Studs.

    27 Oct 2009 Reply