Monday, November 10, 2008

Studs Terkel, 1912-2008

Excerpt from a broadside advertising Studs Terkel's Working, 1981. 2001ua065:4:8_116_1163


Actor, playwright, author, radio commentator, columnist ... "Father of Oral History." Louis "Studs" Terkel is best remembered for exposing the gritty realities of war, race, poverty, and broken dreams through his interviews with everyday Americans. His uncanny ability to connect with people and get them to open up is as legendary as his unmistakable voice, but this talent was revealed to the listening public by accident while hosting a radio music program on WFMT (Chicago) in the 1950s. This led to the successful "Studs Terkel Program" which ran from 1952-1997.

In 1974, Studs Terkel published the descriptively titled Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do, which was turned into a Broadway musical in 1978. In October of 1981, the University of Kentucky Theatre presented Working as part of a seven-show series focusing on "people passions."

Studs Terkel continued writing and interviewing up until the end, publishing P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening in 2008. He died October 31, 2008 in Chicago at the age of 96. To read more about Terkel's life and listen to interviews and excerpts from his long-running radio program, see the Chicago Historical Society's "Studs Terkel: Conversations with America" site.

-- JC

2 comments:

Andrew McGraw said...

I remember reading American Dreams Lost and Found in high school and being blown away. What a talented individual

JC said...

Terkel is great reading for any class in oral history, social studies, history, literature ... Also good for leisure reading -- UK's library has many Terkel books (search under author name at infokat.uky.edu for a full list), as would most bookstores. He's on my list for reading at semester's end!