Robert Bernstein Publisher

After a stint in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served in India as a staff sergeant, in 1946 Bernstein went to work at publisher Simon & Schuster — as a junior office boy. After learning the trade over the next 10 years he moved to Random House, where he rose to succeed founding … Read more

From This is True for 2 June 2019

Murray Gell-Mann Physicist

Born in New York to immigrant parents, Gell-Mann wanted to study archaeology or natural history; he also enjoyed linguistics (he spoke several languages) and ornithology. But, to please his father, he studied physics instead, even though physics was “the only course in which I did badly in high school, and hated it.” He earned his … Read more

From This is True for 26 May 2019

Herman Wouk Writer

A writer, Wouk had a varied career: he wrote gags for radio star Fred Allen, wrote ads for war bonds for the U.S. government during World War II while serving in the Navy, and co-wrote a musical with pop singer Jimmy Buffett. But he’s best known for his historical fiction, coming to prominence with The … Read more

From This is True for 19 May 2019

Fleming Begaye Sr. Code Talker

In 1943, Begaye dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Marine Corps for World War II, and was put to work on an interesting assignment: Navajo-born servicemen got together in classes to develop a code to help the military communicate without their messages being intercepted. The Navajo language didn’t have military terms in … Read more

From This is True for 12 May 2019

Doreen Spooner News photographer

Born in London, Spooner’s father was the picture editor of the Daily Herald newspaper. He sometimes took her to work, where she met his staff photographers. Ned Spooner bought his daughter a camera from Woolworth’s for 5 shillings when she was 8 years old, and that directed her entire life: she became an avid photographer, and … Read more

From This is True for 5 May 2019

Frank Henson Stuntman

Growing up poor, Henson took whatever jobs he could get: hairdresser, dishwasher, nightclub bouncer, trench digger, and a paratrooper in the British Army. In 1967 he finally found his calling when he was hired as a stunt man for the James Bond film Casino Royale. At least 100 movie stunt jobs followed, from five more James … Read more

From This is True for 28 April 2019

Warren Adler Lifelong writer

Born in New York’s Brooklyn borough, Adler graduated from New York University with a degree in English literature. After a stint at New York newspapers, and as the Washington Correspondent for the Armed Forces Press Service during the Korean war, he owned four radio stations and a TV station, and then formed his own public … Read more

From This is True for 21 April 2019

Dick Cole Co-pilot

As a child in Dayton, Ohio, Cole would ride his bicycle a few miles to the Army Air Corps test base at McCook Field to watch the pilots, including the legendary Jimmy Doolittle — and, of course, decided he wanted to be one too. He also read about pilots, and pasted stories in a scrapbook: … Read more

From This is True for 14 April 2019

Joe Bertony Engineer

Born on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, during World War II Bertony joined the French navy to study naval engineering at Saint-Tropez, and was recruited there into another job: spy. He was twice captured by the Nazis, but escaped both times, once by jumping off the train taking him to a concentration camp. General Charles … Read more

From This is True for 7 April 2019

Ed Westcott Secret photographer

A photographer, Westcott spent most of his career working for one particular employer: the U.S. Government. His most notable assignment: he was the only employee allowed to have a camera within the tightly controlled town of Oak Ridge, Tenn., during the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb during World War II. They thought of … Read more

From This is True for 31 March 2019