Louis "Studs" Terkel (May 16, 1912 – October 31, 2008) was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for “The Good War”, 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 Samuel Terkel, a Russian Jewish tailor and his wife, Anna Finkelin in New York City. 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 also served as a meeting place for people from all walks of life. Terkel credited his understanding of humanity and social interaction to the tenants and visitors who gathered in the lobby there, and the people who congregated in nearby Bughouse Square. In 1939, he married Ida Goldberg (1912–1999), and the couple had one son, Dan. Although he received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1934, he decided instead of practicing law, he wanted to be a concierge at a hotel, and he soon joined a theater group.


Studs Terkel Poems

Studs Terkel Quotes

At a time when pimpery, lick-spittlery, and picking the public's pocket are the order of the day—indeed, officially proclaimed as virtue—the poet must play the madcap to keep his balance. And ours.
Studs Terkel (b. 1912), U.S. author, broadcaster. Talking to Myself, bk. 4, ch. 4 (1977). Said of author Nelson Algren.
Something was still there, that something that distinguishes an artist from a performer: the revealing of self. Here I be. Not for long, but here I be. In sensing her mortality, we sensed our own.
Studs Terkel (b. 1912), U.S. author, broadcaster. Talking to Myself, bk. 4, ch. 4 (1977). On seeing Billie Holliday perform in Chicago, 1956.

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