Monday, May 16, 2022

May 16: Louis "Studs" Terkel, American author


Louis "Studs" Terkel (1912-2008) was an American author and historian best known for oral histories of "everyday Americans." Born in NYC, at age 8 he moved with his family to Chicago, then America's "second city," with which he was ever after associated. Though he took a law degree at U of C, he went to work in radio, taking various jobs until he landed The Studs Terkel Program in 1952, which ran 45 years until 1997; on tis show he interviewed such diverse guests as Martin Luther King Jr., Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Dorothy Parker, Tennessee Williams, and Frank Zappa. In the meantime (late '40s and early '50s) he did the unscripted Studs' Place on TV, in which famous people and interesting characters passed through his greasy-spoon diner in Chicago. All this interviewing got him into the oral history racket, for which most of us outside of Chicago know him. In the '70s he wrote Hard Times, about the Great Depression, and Working, in which (per the subtitle) "People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do." In 1985 he won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two. The nickname "Studs," by the way, comes from the time he was reading James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan trilogy while acting in a play with another actor named "Louis."


Please leave a comment - I can't WAIT to hear from you!