Lee Mendelson TV producer

Born and raised on the San Francisco peninsula, Mendelson served in the U.S. Air Force and worked as a vegetable grower before getting a job at a San Francisco TV station in 1961. His job: produce public service announcements. But he quit two years later because he had an idea to make a made-for-TV documentary … Read more

From This is True for 29 December 2019

Chuck Peddle Computer revolutionary

After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and earning his degree in Engineering Physics, Peddle’s first job was with General Electric, working on time-shared computers. In 1973 he moved to Motorola to work on the development of the 6800 microprocessor, which was released in late 1974. Peddle saw enormous potential for lower-cost processors, and urged … Read more

From This is True for 22 December 2019

Gershon Kingsley ‘Popcorn’ composer

Born in Germany as Goetz Gustav Ksinski, Kingsley fled — by himself — days before turning 16, and days before the Nazis started the November Pogroms, attacking Jews. Settling temporarily in what is now Israel, Kingsley studied at the Jerusalem conservatory of music. When his parents and brother arrived in the United States eight years … Read more

From This is True for 15 December 2019

D.C. Fontana Writer

Growing up in New Jersey, Fontana decided at age 11 that she wanted to be a writer. After college, she went to New York City to work at Screen Gems, as the junior secretary to the president of the studio. He died two months later, so she moved to Los Angeles and, with studio experience, … Read more

From This is True for 8 December 2019

Barbara Hillary Adventurer

Born in New York, her father died when Hillary was a baby, and she grew up in poverty. But “there was no such thing as mental poverty in our home,” she said later: she spent much of her time reading. So much so that she breezed through college and a Master’s degree, became a nurse, … Read more

From This is True for 1 December 2019

Wat Misaka NBA pioneer

Born in Ogden, Utah, of Japanese parents, Misaka said his home town ran under “virtual apartheid”: restaurants wouldn’t serve him, and he remembers people crossed the street to avoid him. “That’s just how it was,” he said years later of the racism. He escaped into sports: football, baseball, and basketball. A point guard (the leading … Read more

From This is True for 24 November 2019

Lawrence Paull Production designer

After getting a degree in architecture, Paull decided the field was “too conservative” for him, and he took his talents to Hollywood. Starting as a draftsman, he moved on to set design, art direction, and production designer. So what’s that? The PD is responsible for the overall look of a film, working with the director, … Read more

From This is True for 17 November 2019

Robert Norris Rancher

Born in Chicago to a family of financiers and lawyers, Norris had something else in mind. His uncle was a rancher, and Norris learned the ropes from him. By age 26, Norris bought the “T-Cross” brand mark, and that was the first cattle brand registered in the state of Colorado. Within a few years he … Read more

From This is True for 10 November 2019

Gert Boyle One Tough Mother

Born in Germany, Boyle’s father owned a textile company. But when Hitler came to power, the family fled, moving to Portland, Ore., where her father’s brother already lived. Her father bought a hat company, and thought it needed a modern name that reflected the area: and Columbia Hat Company, named for the Columbia River, was … Read more

From This is True for 3 November 2019

John Downs Sketch artist

After going to art school, where he happened to be taught by LeRoy Neiman, Downs chose an unusual specialty: news sketches, and he was snapped up by the Chicago Daily News. When that paper died in 1978, he moved to the Chicago Sun-Times. Why? When a newspaper needed artwork — say, from a newsworthy criminal trial where cameras … Read more

From This is True for 27 October 2019