Ken Knowlton Computer art pioneer

Born on his family’s farm in eastern New York, Knowlton was precocious: he graduated a year early from high school and still made valedictorian. He went to Cornell University, where his parents had met, for a 5-year program in engineering and physics; he stayed at Cornell to complete a Master’s degree in the same subjects. … Read more

From This is True for 26 June 2022

Julee Cruise Singer

A singer, Cruise was in the right place at the right time more than once. “I was in this country-and-western musical in the East Village,” she recalled in 1990. “I was a chorus girl with a big skirt and a big wig, singing way too loud. Angelo was doing the music for the show, and … Read more

From This is True for 19 June 2022

Ann Turner Cook The baby-faced

A schoolteacher and writer, Cook’s face had been printed on billions of labels to sell products, but she wasn’t allowed to publicly acknowledge that the well-known (trademarked!) face was hers, even though she had not consented to the use of her face. Until 1978, that is, when the product company allowed her name to be known. The … Read more

From This is True for 5 June 2022

Colin Cantwell Concept artist

Born in San Francisco, Calif., Cantwell had an insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge: by the end of the first grade he had gone through all the books in his school’s library; he then moved on to the public library. He studied various fields at the University of California at Los Angeles, which took his … Read more

From This is True for 22 May 2022

David Walden The IMPish

Born in Washington state, Walden’s family moved to San Francisco when he was 4. He went to school at the University of California at Berkeley, but dropped out after just one semester due to his poor grades. He regrouped and went to San Francisco State, getting his BS in mathematics, during which time he worked … Read more

From This is True for 8 May 2022

Johnnie Jones War hero

Growing up in Laurel Hill, Louisiana, Jones went to Southern University in Baton Rouge and, shortly after graduating, was drafted into the U.S. Army. It was 1943: World War II was in full swing, and Jones was assigned to the 494th Port Battalion, attached to the 6th Engineer Special Brigade that took part in Operation … Read more

From This is True for 1 May 2022

Barbara Hall Puzzler

She only learned later in life that she was born a triplet; her two brothers didn’t survive. “My mother understood that being a girl was a disadvantage back then,” Hall said in 2019. “She did her absolute best to ensure that I achieved whatever they would have done. I attended elocution lessons, did piano and … Read more

From This is True for 25 April 2022

Art Rupe Rock producer

Growing up in small town Pennsylvania, Rupe’s father was a factory worker, and their home was modest. Rupe, who was white, was captivated by the music coming from a local black Baptist church. After his education — and working in shipbuilding in Los Angeles during World War II — Rupe decided to get into the … Read more

From This is True for 18 April 2022

Bill Fries “C.W. McCall”

Growing up in Iowa, Fries listened to country music, and in 1950 moved to Omaha, Neb., taking a job at a local TV station as a commercial artist. He made $35 a week, and won an award from the Omaha Artists and Art Directors Club. That got the attention of an Omaha advertising agency, which … Read more

From This is True for 3 April 2022

John Roach Personal computer pioneer

Born in rural Texas, the Roach family moved to 150 miles east to Fort Worth when John was 4 — and he pretty much never left, not counting a stint in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from Texas Christian University there, majoring in physics and math, and returned two years later for his MBA, which … Read more

From This is True for 27 March 2022