Louis "Studs" Terkel, 1912 - 2008
Born: 16 May 1912, New York City
Died: 31 October 2008, Chicago, Illinois
Terkel's family moved to Chicago in 1920 and he rarely left. His parents had a boarding house and hotel from 1926 to 1936 and Terkel credits the residents' Depression-era conversation in the lobby as being a major part of his education, along with the gatherings at "Bughouse Square" nearby. To emulate his hero, Clarence Darrow, he earned his Juris Doctor at the University of Chicago Law School in 1934 but learned that freshly-minted Jewish lawyers weren't in demand. He did a little acting, and at one point he was in a cast with another actor named Louis and to avoid confusion the director called him Studs, after Studs Lonigan, the part he was reading. He signed on with the Works Progress Administration's Federal Writers' Project, continued occasional acting, and for two years was the host of "Stud's Place", an unscripted television show based in a "greasy spoon" diner. TV, and the possibility of movie work, were eliminated by the blacklisting of that era and he landed at WFMT hosting The Studs Terkel Program, featuring some music but mostly interviews. His guests included Chicago luminaries and just about anyone that interested him that came to town, the show ran for an hour a day for 45 years (1952 - 1997). Through this he became fascinated with oral history and carried a tape recorder everywhere, short walks about town could take hours as people approached him to talk, and he promptly interviewed them. Sometime in the 1990s he lost most of his hearing and interviewing became difficult, he compensated by speeding up his writing.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Studs Terkel quotes:
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- Ah, Chicago. Were I living in New York or L.A., I'd have been dead meat long ago. permalink
- Anybody can be redeemed. I've seen it. permalink
- Being neither a sociologist nor a research man, motivational or otherwise, I followed no blueprint or book of set statistics. I played hunches—in some instances, long shots. Irvin Cobb observed, 'All horse players must die broke.' Here is one who will die astonished. permalink
Division Street: America (1967)
- Birthday presents are good even at 95. permalink
- But once you become active in something, something happens to you. You get excited and suddenly you realize you count. permalink
- Cannot Hannah Arendt's 'banality of evil' be subject to transposition: the evil of banality? permalink
American Dreams: Lost and Found (1983)
- Chicago is not the most corrupt American city, it's the most theatrically corrupt. permalink
The Dick Cavett Show (9 June 1978)
- Curiosity never killed this cat: That's what I'd like as my epitaph. permalink
- Dorothy Day said - and I'm sure that Kathy Kelly would say the same thing - 'I'm working toward a world in which it will be easier for people to behave decently.' Now, think about that: a world in which it will be easier for people to behave decently. permalink
- I call myself a radical conservative. What's that? Well, let's analyze it. Go to the dictionary. Radical: One who gets to the roots of things. And I'm a conservative because I want to conserve the green of the grass, the potability of drinking water, the first amendment of the Constitution and whatever sanity we have left. permalink
- I guess I was seeking some balance in the wildlife of the city as Rachel Carson sought it in nature. In unbalanced times, balance is as difficult to come by as Parsifal's Grail. permalink
Division Street: America (1967)
- I have a big mouth, and I never met a petition I didn't like, so of course in the McCarthy days I got in trouble. permalink
- I hope for peace and sanity. It's the same thing. permalink
- I hope that memory is valued, that we do not lose memory. permalink
- I like quoting Einstein. Know why? Because nobody dares contradict you. permalink
"Voice of America" by Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian (1 March 2002)
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