Acclaimed Author, Actor, Radio Personality Studs Terkel, Dies at 96

In Broadcasting, History, literature, obituaries, television, U.S History on November 2, 2008 by Editor Z

Famed radio and tv personality and award winning author Studs Terkel, died yesterday at the age of 96.

Terkel was known for his seventeen books that were largely interviews where people opened up about such things as race, hope, their jobs, life, and even World war II. Terkel was also an actor as well, with one of the first television shows, “Studs Place” and did radio voices for series as well. However in the 1950s his career suffered as well as a result of his liberal political ideology amidst the McCarthy driven red scare.

Terkel was born in the Bronx New York in 1912 (he famously stated that it was the year the Titanic went down and I came up”) and came from humble beginnings.

Through his style of interviewing and works which he called “oral Histories” which involved a great deal more listening then acting, Terkel armed with some questions and a tape recorder was able to allow people both famous and prominent as well as the disadvantaged and ordinary to open themselves up and paint a true more complex representation of America. By reaching into the inner depths of themselves show us all a little something about the experiences that face us all as both individuals and society. His works regarding history and entertainment which he approached with great care but also a buoyant humor will endure. A near century’s worth of history was in that man, and he will no doubt be missed.

Associated Press:

CHICAGO (AP) — Studs Terkel, the ageless master of listening and speaking, a broadcaster, activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose best-selling oral histories celebrated the common people he liked to call the “non-celebrated,” died Friday. He was 96.

Dan Terkell said his father died at home, and described his death as “peaceful, no agony. This is what he wanted.”

“My dad led a long, full, eventful, sometimes tempestuous, but very satisfying life,” Terkell, who spells his name with an extra letter, said in a statement issued through his father’s colleague and close friend Thom Clark.

He was a native New Yorker who moved to Chicago as a child and came to embrace and embody his adopted town, with all its “carbuncles and warts,” as he recalled in his 2007 memoir, “Touch and Go.” He was a cigar and martini man, white-haired and elegantly rumpled in his trademark red-checkered shirts, an old rebel who never mellowed, never retired, never forgot, and “never met a picket line or petition I didn’t like.”

“A lot of people feel, ‘What can I do, (it’s) hopeless,'” Terkel told The Associated Press in 2003. “Well, through all these years there have been the people I’m talking about, whom we call activists … who give us hope and through them we have hope.”

The tougher the subject, the harder Terkel took it on. He put out an oral history collection on race relations in 1992 called “Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About The American Obsession,” and, in 1995, “Coming of Age,” recollections of men and women 70 and older. More>>>



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