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CHARLIE PARKER (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) American jazz saxophonist and composer. Main accomplishments:
  • Revolutionized the world of jazz music with his innovative style, which became known as bebop.
  • Influenced countless other musicians and contributed to the development of numerous styles of jazz.
  • Composed numerous influential works, including "Ornithology," "Yardbird Suite," and "Scrapple From The Apple."
Best known for his innovative style of jazz known as bebop, Charlie Parker was one of the most talented and influential saxophonists of the 20th century. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Parker began playing the saxophone at a young age and quickly gained recognition for his talents. He later moved to New York City, where he continued to perform and compose, influencing many notable musicians of the time. Despite personal struggles, including drug addiction and mental health issues, Parker's legacy lives on through his numerous influential works and his impact on the development of modern jazz. EARLY LIFE Charles Christopher Parker Jr. was born in Kansas City, Kansas, to Charles and Addie Parker. His father was a musician, and Charlie began playing the saxophone at a young age. When he was just 11 years old, he joined his school's band and began performing professionally. In 1933, at the age of 13, Charlie was sent to live with his mother in New York City. There, he was exposed to the thriving jazz scene and began to develop his own style. He studied with some of the best musicians of the time, including Buster Smith and Count Basie, and quickly gained a reputation as a talented saxophonist. CAREER BEGINNINGS Charlie's career took off in the 1940s when he joined the Jay McShann Orchestra. He quickly became the band leader, and together they toured the country, performing at some of the most prestigious venues in the country. In the mid-1940s, Charlie began to develop a new style of jazz known as bebop. Fast tempos, complex harmonies, and virtuosic solos characterized this style. It was a departure from the smooth, swing-style jazz that was popular at the time, and it was met with both praise and resistance. Charlie's bebop style was revolutionary, and he quickly gained a following among other musicians. He collaborated with some of the most influential figures in jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk, and together they helped to define the sound of modern jazz. LATER YEARS In the 1950s, Charlie's career reached its peak. He recorded dozens of albums, composed numerous influential works, and toured the world. His saxophone playing was unmatched, and he influenced countless other musicians. Despite his success, Charlie struggled with personal issues, including drug addiction and mental health problems. He died at the age of 34, but his legacy lives on as one of the most important figures in the history of jazz music.    

CHARLIE PARKER (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) American jazz saxophonist and composer. Main accomplishments: Revolutionized the world of jazz music with his innovative style, which became known a...

FEDERICO FELLINI (January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993) Italian film director, screenwriter, and playwright. Known for his distinctive style, blending fantasy and baroque images with earthiness. Main accomplishments:
  • One of the most important and influential filmmakers of the 20th century, Fellini's films are known for their vivid and imaginative storytelling, blending fantasy and reality in a unique way.
  • Won four Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for La Strada (1954), Nights of Cabiria (1957), (1963), and Amarcord (1973).
  • Directed 15 feature films and numerous short films, and was also a prolific screenwriter and playwright.
Federico Fellini, the legendary Italian film director, screenwriter, and playwright, left an indelible mark on cinema history with his vivid and imaginative storytelling. His films, known for blending fantasy and reality in a unique way, captivated audiences and critics alike, earning him numerous awards, including four Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. With themes of memory, imagination, and identity at the forefront, Fellini's films were heavily influenced by the cinema of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as by the works of James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and the Surrealists. His influence on the film industry is undeniable, with numerous filmmakers citing him as a major inspiration. Fellini's body of work remains a testament to his artistic genius and continues to inspire and delight audiences to this day. EARLY LIFE Federico Fellini was born in Rimini, Italy, in 1920, the son of a traveling salesman and a woman who worked as a circus performer. He began drawing at an early age and was inspired by the circus and carnival culture of his childhood. He studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rimini, but left after a year to pursue a career in journalism. He moved to Rome in 1939 and worked as a cartoonist and writer for a number of magazines and newspapers. FILM CAREER Fellini began his film career as a screenwriter, writing for the famous Italian director Roberto Rossellini. He made his directorial debut in 1950 with The White Sheik, a satire of the Italian film industry. He quickly gained international recognition with his second film, La Strada (1954), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He followed up with Nights of Cabiria (1957), which also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. His most famous and critically acclaimed film, 8½ (1963), is considered a masterpiece of modern cinema and one of the greatest films of all time. He continued to make films throughout his career, including Amarcord (1973) and La Dolce Vita (1960) which was a major critical and commercial success. He was also a prolific screenwriter and playwright, writing over 30 plays and screenplays. STYLE AND INFLUENCE Fellini's films are known for their vivid and imaginative storytelling, blending fantasy and reality in a unique way. He often used autobiographical elements in his films and drew on his own experiences and memories to create a dream-like, surreal atmosphere. His films also often dealt with themes of memory, imagination, and the search for identity. He was heavily influenced by the cinema of the 1920s and 1930s and by the theater of the period. He was also heavily influenced by the art and literature of the period, including the works of James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and the Surrealists. His films have had a major impact on the cinema of the 20th century, influencing a number of prominent filmmakers and film movements. LATER CAREER As Fellini's career progressed, he continued to push the boundaries of cinema and experiment with new techniques and styles. Some of his later films, such as Fellini's Casanova (1976) and City of Women (1980), were not as well received by critics and audiences as his earlier work, but they still showcased his unique vision and storytelling abilities. His last completed film, The Voice of the Moon (1990), was a return to form and received positive reviews. Fellini's influence on cinema can be seen in the works of many prominent filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and David Lynch. His films have been the subject of numerous retrospectives and exhibitions, and his legacy continues to be celebrated by film enthusiasts and critics around the world. Fellini died of a heart attack in Rome on October 31, 1993. He was 73 years old at the time of his death. He was celebrated for his contributions to cinema as one of the most important and influential filmmakers of the 20th century. His films continue to be celebrated for their vivid and imaginative storytelling, blending fantasy and reality in a unique way.

One of Europe’s greatest directors working outside of Hollywood, Federico Fellini (1920—1993) directed four Oscar-winning pictures in the 1950s and 1960s. An influence on generations of filmmakers...

ALAN TURING (June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954). British mathematician, computer scientist, code-breaker, philosopher, and pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. Main accomplishments:
  • 1936: The Turing Machine
  • 1939–40: The Bomb, Enigma decryption machine
  • 1946: Computer and software design
  • 1950: The Turing Test for machine intelligence
  • His best known published works include "On Computable Numbers" (1936) and "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (1950).
  Considered one of the three most influential British scientists of all time (along with Newton and Darwin), Alan Turing was a mathematician who pioneered the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence, transforming society and helping to create the digital world we know today. EARLY LIFE The fact that a computer had become a fixture in nearly every home is in large part due to Alan Turing’s groundbreaking work on artificial intelligence in the first half of the 20th century. Born in London to upper-middle-class parents, Turing’s life was marked by professional achievements and personal hardships. His early interest in mathematics earned him derision from his teachers at Sherborne School, which focused more on classics than on science. Undeterred, Turing continued to show an exceptional (for a teenager) ability to solve advanced mathematical problems. It was at Sherborne that Turing met his first love interest, an older student by the name of Christopher Morcom. During his lifetime, homosexuality was illegal in Britain, and this intolerant attitude eventually led to Turning’s death at 41, which is commonly believed to have been a suicide by cyanide poisoning. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS Turing’s genius prospered from 1931 to 1934, the years he spent studying at King's College, Cambridge University. There, he distinguished himself as a brilliant mathematician and was appointed, in 1935, a Fellow of the college. Young Turing thrived at the progressive and intellectually stimulating university and eventually branched out into the new (to him) area of mathematical logic. From September 1936 to July 1938, Turing studied for his Ph.D. at another renowned institution—albeit on the other side of the Atlantic. At the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton NJ, he studied not only mathematics and logic, but also cryptology. This science of coding and decoding of secret messages would prove useful during WWII when Turing worked for the British government cracking the German “Enigma,” a machine used for the encryption of secret messages. One of his contributions was the creation of the Bombe, an electromechanical machine capable of breaking the Enigma messages on a huge scale. PROFESSIONAL MILESTONES Turing’s expertise in the decoding of enemy communications laid the groundwork for his post-war work at the National Physical Laboratory in London. While there, he created his revolutionary design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), the first functional version of the Turing machine. He initially described this abstract device, intended to discover the nature and limits of computability, in his 1936 article, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem” (a process determining the validity of a first-order logic problem in a finite number of steps). This work is considered to be the foundation of computer science and our understanding of artificial intelligence. The ACE project was bogged down by delays and red tape and Turing became disillusioned by the lack of progress. He moved back to Cambridge, where he focused on the concept of an electronic brain. However, the first ACE was built during his absence, executing its first program in 1950. Over the years, and with many modifications, the principles of the ACE design eventually spawned a personal computer that is today in nearly every home. After the Cambridge sabbatical, Turing moved on to what would become the last job of his short life: the Computing Laboratory at Manchester University. While there, he worked on the development of the software programming for the Automatic Digital Machine (also called the MADM or the Manchester Mark I), the largest memory computer ever conceived. It was during his stint in Manchester that Turing wrote his paper titled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence." In it, he introduced his concept of the Turing Test, meant to determine whether a computer can demonstrate an intelligent behavior and “think” like a human brain. (The answer is still pending). A TRAGIC END Although Turing’s work and achievements earned him the honorary title of Order of the British Empire (OBE), he was both persecuted and prosecuted for homosexuality. In 1952, when it became known that he had a male lover 19 years his junior, Turing was arrested and brought to trial. He pled guilty to “indecent acts,” and instead of imprisonment, he agreed to undergo hormonal treatment to suppress his sex drive. As a result of estrogen injections, he started to grow breasts and suffered other physical and mental side effects as well. On June 7, 1954, two years after his arrest and sentence, he committed suicide by eating an apple dipped in cyanide. In 1999, Time Magazine named Turing one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century—a fitting title for a brilliant pioneer whose extraordinary life was cut short by prejudice and bigotry.

Considered one of the three most influential British scientists of all time (along with Newton and Darwin), Alan Turing was a mathematician who pioneered the fields of computer science and artificial ...

W. H. Auden (February 21, 1907 - September 29, 1973)
W. H. Auden was a British-American poet and is recognized for being one of the foremost modernist poets of the 20th century.  Main Accomplishments:
  • Won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue (1948).
  • Received the National Book Award for Poetry for his book, The Shield of Achilles (1956). 
  • Served as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford from 1956 to 1961. 
  British-American poet W. H. Auden is recognized as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century, influencing the arts to the extent that journalists referred to his period of fame as the “Auden Generation.” The grandson of an Anglican minister, Auden was raised in the Christian faith and served as a choirboy. Such an experience, he once confessed, taught him the power of words. For Auden, poetry was an outlet for not only mere creativity but also social critique. Largely influenced by the likes of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx in his early years, and a recommitment to Christian devotion in his later years, Auden’s works are not a uniform collection, but rather a diverse array of verse and prose of Auden’s own creation.
W. H. Auden—formally, Wystan Hugh Auden—was born in York, England on February 21, 1907. His father, George Augustus Auden, was a prominent physician and psychologist who took great interest in folkloric tales, wielding great influence over his young son’s vivid imagination. His mother, Constance Rosalie Bicknell Auden, was a missionary nurse and an ardent devotee of the Anglican church. The couple raised Auden and his two older brothers in England’s industrial city of Birmingham.  Auden’s lyrical abilities were recognized early in his academic career; however, his initial pursuit was science. During his childhood years, he planned on becoming a mining engineer, and in 1925, he earned a scholarship to take a degree in natural science.  His passion for writing continued to blossom, and he was eventually compelled to change his major to English. As a student at Christ Church, Oxford, he became a part of a collective of writers that would later be known as the “Auden generation.” This generation boasted of poets such as Louis MacNeice and C. Day Louis, who was named poet laureate in 1968. 
In 1928, around the time of his graduation from the University of Oxford, Auden privately published his very first poetry collection, Poems. Dabbling in Marxist and Freudian ideas, these juvenile lines of verse were more fragmented than his later works, yet still maintained many of the themes he would revisit throughout his career.  It would be Auden’s second collection—also entitled Poems—that would launch him to the pinnacle of the literary world. Now a schoolmaster by day and poet by night, Auden publicly released this collection in 1930 with the help of T. S. Eliot. Notable within Auden’s work are descriptions of the Northern English landscape. The “new valley” and “spring’s green” featured in Auden’s early poem, “From the Very First Coming Down,” showcase the Northern English topography. These topographical images emerge elsewhere in his poetry, frequently serving as implicit relational motifs. For Auden, relationships are unions that must be both criticized and formidably protected from hostile forces. This concept becomes more apparent in the second half of Auden’s career via a rocky romantic relationship.  Generally speaking, scholars divide Auden’s work into two time periods. The first period occurs between Auden’s schooling and travels throughout China and war-torn Spain—trips that inspired Journey to a War (1939) and Spain (1937). This era is generally characterized by Auden’s employment of socio-political themes. The second half commences following his immigration to the United States in 1939. During this period, Auden emboldened his commitment to Christianity, became radically suspicious of love, and intently oriented his work toward spiritual matters rather than political ones.
Auden was not only a remarkable poet, but he was also a contemplative playwright. He wrote his first play for the Group Theatre in London and titled it, The Dance of Death (1933). What Auden once called a “nihilistic leg-pull,” The Dance of Death displayed the demise of the middle class via a dancer who seeks to preserve his life through forms of escapism, nationalism, idealism, and hedonism.  Following The Dance of Death, Auden wrote three plays alongside his longtime friend, Christopher Isherwood: The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935), The Ascent of F6 (1936)—which featured the famous poem, “Funeral Blues,”—and On the Frontier (1938).  Isherwood also notably supported Auden in his odd marital relationship. In an effort to escape the Nazi persecution in Germany, Erika Mann, the daughter of the writer, Thomas Mann, was seeking a suitor to marry for the prospect of gaining British citizenship. Mann initially intended to marry Isherwood, however, Isherwood did not feel comfortable obliging. Isherwood then sought to pair Mann with Auden, and Auden readily accepted the offer, though the two hardly knew each other. The couple remained married until Mann’s death in 1969. Their marriage remained unconsummated.  Auden’s relationship with Mann evidently meant little as regards romantic fidelity. Auden began exploring his homosexual inclinations by frequenting a gay bar called the Cozy Corner during the year he spent in Berlin in 1929, recording many of his sexual encounters in a diary—writings that many publishers consider too obscene for publication. When he arrived in the United States with Isherwood years later, Auden encountered a flirtatious young man named Chester Kallman at one of his poetry readings. Auden and Kallman engaged in a relationship; however, Auden’s longing for matrimonial love was not reciprocated by the younger Kallman. Auden wrote of Kallman in many of his poems, though he never disclosed his gender.  As lovers and friends, Auden and Kallman collaborated on several artistic projects. Among their most notable works are The Rake’s Progress (1951) for Igor Stravinsky, Elegy for Young Lovers (1961) for Hans Werner Henze, and Love’s Labor Lost (1973) for Nicolas Nabokov.  Toward the end of his career, Auden would publish a commonplace book, A Certain World (1970). In 1972, he would edit The Collected Poems of St. John Perse and serve as an honorary fellow at Christ’s Church, Oxford, as his health declined. 
In a 1972 interview, with wavering health, Auden confessed to a reporter that he was concerned for his well-being. “At my age, it’s not good to be alone,” he remarked. “Supposing I had a coronary, it might be days before I was found.”  On September 29, 1973, while in a hotel near Vienna, Austria, Auden died. He had been lecturing at a nearby academic institution and visiting old friends. He was 66-years-old. 

British-American poet W. H. Auden is recognized as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century, influencing the arts to the extent that journalists referred to his period of fame as the “Auden Gen...

KURT GÖDEL (April 28, 1906 - January 14, 1978) Austrian-American logician, mathematician, theologian, and author. Creator of the two Incompleteness Theorems and the technique of Gödel numbering. Main accomplishments:
  • Published several mathematical and philosophical papers between 1929 and 1946, including his two groundbreaking incompleteness theorems and the constructible universe theory.
  • Winner of the first Albert Einstein Award in 1951, as well as the National Medal of Science in 1974.
  • Namesake of the Kurt Gödel Society, an international organization promoting logic and scientific research, as well as the Gödel Prize, awarded for theoretical computer science. Also the namesake of the Gödel programming language.
  • Established an exact solution of Einstein’s field theory equation, allowing for the theoretical possibility of time travel.
  Kurt Gödel was one of the most important mathematicians and logicians of modern times. He is best known for his incompleteness theorems—perhaps the most celebrated proofs in modern logic—which had a profound impact on scientific and philosophical thought, and helped define the postmodern era.  EARLY LIFE AND CAREER Born in Brno, Moravia (now the Czech Republic) to Rudolf and Marianne Gödel, Kurt displayed an attraction towards logic from a very young age. As a student, an early interest in languages gave way to a passion for mathematics, which he supplemented in his teens with history and philosophy. At 18, he entered the University of Vienna, where his older brother was a medical student. His early courses exposed him to number theory and mathematical logic, and his growing interest in mathematical realism led him to pursue mathematics rather than physics, as he’d first intended. Mathematical realism says that mathematical objects and concepts are real, that they exist outside of human invention and imagination. The distinction may seem trivial, so consider it in terms of food instead: the difference between fruit and meat is "real," it’s a difference that is true regardless of human involvement. The difference between dessert and breakfast, on the other hand, exists only in the human mind—there is no scientific property separating them. Mathematical concepts are discovered, according to realism—not invented the way recipes are. Important early influences on Gödel included Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russell, and David Hilbert. There is a stereotype about mathematicians that they do their most ground-breaking work early in life, even though their mastery of the discipline is greater later. There are many theories about why this might be true, of course, but Kurt Gödel has always been a prime example of the trend. He published his best-known and most important work, his incompleteness theorems, in 1931—only a year after graduating from the University, where his completeness theorem had formed his doctoral dissertation. The completeness theorem had proven the completeness of predicate logic—it had shown, in other words, that within predicate logic (also known as first-order logic), every logically valid formula can be proven through a list of steps. To oversimplify a little, he showed that predicate logic contained all the rules necessary to prove the things it’s designed to prove. Like many mathematical advances, this was something that was widely believed to be true, but hadn’t yet been proven. GROUNDBREAKING WORK The 1931 incompleteness theorems were much more advanced and ground-breaking. Since the nineteenth century, mathematicians had been trying to construct a set of axioms (mathematical rules) that would include all of mathematics. Gödel proved that they would never succeed. To some mathematicians, it was as though he had demonstrated in the middle of the space race that launching a rocket was impossible. Few of his colleagues had considered that what they sought was impossible, and had focused more on finding it, whether by brute force or elegant solutions. Gödel proved that for any such system of rules, there would be a valid mathematical formula that it could not prove. In Gödel’s words: "Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete." Even aside from the implications of his proof, Gödel had to invent a whole new mathematical language in order to achieve it. It took time for those implications to set in, and they continue to unfurl: Gödel’s work has been critical in philosophy and cognitive science and is sometimes brought up in the study of (and quest for) artificial intelligence. FLIGHT TO AMERICA AND FRIENDSHIP WITH EINSTEIN Gödel continued to work in and lecture on this general area of mathematics throughout the 1930s. An often troubled man who suffered a nervous breakdown after the murder of one of his mentors, Gödel avoided politics, and so the only immediate impact on him of the Nazi Party’s ascension to power in Germany (which had absorbed Austria) was the abolition of his teaching job. (Not his specifically, but all jobs with his title of Privatdozent.) When his Jewish friends and physical fitness for military duty made it hard for him to find another mathematics job in Vienna, he and his wife left Europe. In 1940, Gödel took a teaching position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey—where Albert Einstein had emigrated some years earlier. Gödel and Einstein became close friends, both of them brilliant men who saw their early contributions to science unfold wide-spanning consequences during their lives. Einstein later accompanied Gödel when the latter sought U.S. citizenship. Gödel also published a paper on Einstein’s field equations which provided a solution in which time travel would be possible, though his goal was more likely to demonstrate the problems with our understanding of "time" in light of modern physics. Still, it’s hard to say. Though he continued to make major contributions to mathematics, especially his work on such advanced topics as the axiom of choice and the continuum hypothesis, in the last years of Gödel’s life some of his pursuits became less traditional. He believed there was a way to avoid death, and lamented his inability to discover the mathematics of this escape in his notebooks; when seeking his American citizenship, he went off on a tangent, explaining to the judge that a loophole in the Constitution allowed for the creation of a dictatorship. Straddling the line between the mainstream and the unconventional, he also developed his ontological proof of God, drawing on prior writings by Saint Anselm and Gottfried Leibniz. DEATH Paranoia proved to be the death of the famously nervous Gödel. In 1936, his mentor Moritz Schlick was assassinated on the steps of the university he worked at by a fanatical Nazi student. The incident triggered a paranoid fear of assassination that remained with Gödel throughout his life, and would ultimately become his undoing. In 1978, when his wife became too ill to cook for him, he refused to eat anything else lest he be poisoned. He later starved to death. Gödel’s work continues to be as relevant to many branches of mathematics and logic as his friend Einstein’s was to physics. The Kurt Gödel Society, named in his honor, continues to provide grant money and support to logicians and mathematicians around the world. SUGGESTED READING [table id=39 /]

One of the major modern mathematicians, Kurt Gödel’s (1906–1978) contributions quickly became part of the foundation of his field, before he had even turned 30. He never stopped working, after hi...

SAMUEL BECKETT (April 13, 1906 – December 22, 1989)

Irish avant-garde playwright, poet, and novelist.

Main accomplishments:

  • 1927: Won his first literary prize for the poem entitled Whoroscope
  • 1952: Published his seminal play, Waiting for Godot
  • 1959: Received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin
  • 1961: Co-won, with Jorge Luis Borges, the Prix International des Editeurs (International Publishers' Formentor Prize)
  • 1969: Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Among his best-known works is the trilogy of Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951), and The Unnamable (1953).
  One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett was a complete original whose work combined a terminally bleak view of existence with remarkable dramatic innovation and dark humor. His most famous play, Waiting for Godottransformed the way we think about theater, and this and other works paved the way for the many notable playwrights and novelists who followed him. EARLY LIFE The first avant-garde playwright to win international fame, Samuel Beckett was the younger son of a middle-class, Protestant family living in a Dublin suburb of Foxrock. During his childhood, he once remarked that he had “little talent for happiness." This gloomy mindset, which included bouts of depression, lasted throughout his life, spilling over to his works, all of which focused on meaninglessness, randomness, and transiency of life. Beckett started to learn French as a child, becoming fluent enough to write later in this language—in fact, most of his major works were written in French before being translated into English. He attended Portora Royal boarding school in Northern Ireland, the same educational institution where his famous countryman, Oscar Wilde, had studied in the 1860s. In 1923, Beckett enrolled in Trinity College, studying French and Italian. Upon graduating in 1927, he was awarded a two-year post as an assistant professor of English at the École normale supérieure in Paris. He became a fixture in French literary circles, where he met another Irish expatriate, novelist James Joyce. Beckett was strongly influenced by his compatriot and helped to research the work that would eventually become Finnegan’s Wake. During that time, he also decided to quit academia and devote himself to writing instead. An interesting anecdote relates to an event that happened in Paris. In 1938, a panhandler stabbed Beckett with a knife, perforating his lung. A young piano student named Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil came to his aid, and the two began a lifelong relationship, finally marrying in 1961. In the 1920s and 30s, Beckett penned some stories and poems, including Whoroscope, in which he described the philosopher René Descartes meditating about the transiency of life. In 1932, Beckett wrote his first novel, Dream of Fair to Middling Women. It was rejected by publishers at the time, but was eventually released posthumously in 1992. However, two years later, he published a volume of short stories titled More Pricks than Kicks, which was partially derived from the Dream. Murphy, which was released in 1938, was Beckett’s first published novel. His literary career was put on hold during World War II when he joined the French Resistance movement; in 1945, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, France’s military medal honoring people who fought against the Nazis. LITERARY CAREER While Beckett published a number of novels, poems, and essays throughout his life, he became much better known through his plays, among them Eleutheria (1947), Waiting for Godot (1952), Endgame (1957), Krapp's Last Tape (1958), and Happy Days (1961). In fact, the late 1950s and early 60s marked the heyday of Beckett’s literary career. It is worth noting that—possibly because of heavy and dark themes that permeated his works—Beckett’s plays were not immediately well accepted, or, for that matter, widely understood. For instance, when Godot—arguably Beckett's most famous work—opened in London on January 5, 1953, critics called it "the strange little play in which 'nothing happens.'" However, it gradually became a success, as did his other plays, and Godot is generally accepted as a cornerstone of contemporary theater. Beckett died of respiratory ailments in a Paris hospital, after spending months in a nursing home. He was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery, in the city that had been his home for most of his adult life. LEGACY Although, as New York Times noted in Beckett’s obituary, his name “in the adjectival form, Beckettian, entered the English language as a synonym for bleakness,” he was widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He inspired subsequent playwrights to experiment with the absurdist style that was Beckett’s trademark. As the Nobel committee noted, its literary prize was awarded to Beckett "for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."

An Irish avant-garde playwright, poet and novelist who is considered one of the fathers of the postmodernist movement, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 "...

JEAN-PAUL SARTRE (June 21, 1905 - April 15, 1980) French writer, philosopher, political activist, and proponent of existentialism. Main Accomplishments:
  • Published his first and most influential novel in 1938, Nausea.
  • Wrote Being and Nothingness in 1943, coining the phrase, “existence precedes essence.”
  • Awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964, but declined it.
      A towering intellectual figure, Jean-Paul Sartre was a philosopher, novelist, playwright, literary critic, journalist, and political activist who grappled with the deepest questions about what it means to be human and had a profound influence on 20th-century thought. His best-known philosophic work, Being and Nothingness, is one of the foundational texts of existentialism. EARLY LIFE Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was born in Paris, France to Jean-Baptiste Sartre and Anne-Marie Schweitzer. His father, who was an officer in the navy, died two years after Sartre’s birth. His mother elected to return to her parent's home and raised Sartre in Meudon, a Paris suburb. With the help of her parents, Anne-Marie raised her son and provided him with a great education. Sartre’s grandfather, Charles Schweitzer, began instructing him in classical literature at a young age. Books often provided a means of escape from the frequent bullying he suffered as a child. Sartre was an easily recognizable figure. He suffered from exotropia, a condition that results in the eyes being deviated outward. This condition left Sartre blind in his right eye and the subject of harassment in school.  His mother remarried when Sartre was twelve years old. The new family moved to La Rochelle on the west coast of France. Upon moving, he attended the Cours Hattemer, a private school that produced other well-known alumni. Here, he read an essay, "Time and Free Will," by the French thinker Henri Bergson that forged his path in philosophy.  He moved on to study at École normale supérieure, from which he graduated in 1929. He earned various credentials in philosophy, ethics and sociology, logic, and other fields of study. While studying, he met Simone de Beauvoir, a student at the University of Paris who would become a French writer, philosopher, feminist thinker, and proponent of existentialism. The two never married because they did not want to conform to cultural norms they deemed far too traditional and oppressive. They maintained an open relationship throughout their long partnership. CAREER In 1931, Sartre began teaching at lycées, French schools designed for students between fifteen and eighteen years. During this part of his career, he became involved in a neo-Hegelian resurgence engendered by the philosophers Alexandre Kojève and Jean Hyppolite.  In 1938 he published his first novel, Nausea, considered one of his best works. The novel follows the story of a historian named Antoine Roquentin. Roquentin takes a retreat to research an 18th-century figure but soon discovers a feeling of nausea when pondering the material world. He soon spirals out of control and begins to believe that he is nonexistent. Written in diary form, the novel laid the groundwork for the principles Sartre would develop as his career matured.  After spending about eight years teaching, Sartre was drafted into the French army during World War II. He served as a meteorologist until being captured by Nazi troops in 1940. During his confinement, Sartre read Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, which incredibly influenced his views on phenomenological ontology. Following nine months of imprisonment, he was released because of poor health and later obtained civilian status.  Upon being discharged from the army, Sartre returned to teaching, writing, and publishing. His return to civilization brought about defined liberalism, which he incorporated in his political advocacy. For instance, his leftward lean displayed itself in Sartre's criticism of the French occupation of Algeria.  In his 1943 book, Being and Nothingness, he bolstered his status as a formidable philosopher. Being and Nothingness established Sartre’s thinking on existentialism, free will, psychoanalysis, and the existence of nothingness. Sartre introduced the phrase, “existence precedes essence,” which was well-received among many of his peers. Built upon the works of Søren Kierkegaard and Heidegger, this single phrase would change the way many people would think concerning the issue of free will and the purpose of life. In 1945, Sartre left his profession of teaching to pursue writing and activism full time. He started his journal called Modern Times, in which he frequently published his ideas. Sartre proceeded to write more novels; however, he quickly abandoned the medium, considering it to be less effective in conveying philosophical thought. He returned to playwriting, which he first ventured into while being a prisoner of war by the Nazis. He wrote numerous plays such as The Flies, No Exit, and Dirty Hands. Each of his scripts was rather dreary, often dealing with the hostility that arose between individuals.  Although his sympathy toward communism grew during the 1940s, his faith in the economic system diminished following the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. He frequently criticized Stalinist ideals and defended his personal view of Marxism in his Critique of Dialectical Reason, published in 1960.  In the same year that he published the Critique, he and Beauvoir traveled to Cuba, meeting with Fidel Castro and “Che” Guevara. Sartre had very high regard for Guevara and upheld him as a righteous revolutionary. After Guevara's assassination, Sartre remarked that Guevara was the “era's most perfect man.” FINAL YEARS In October 1964, Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his autobiography, Words, but readily declined the award. He claimed he did not want to transform himself into a bourgeois institution by accepting the prize. Following this event, Sartre continued writing, working on a large project on novelist Gustave Flaubert that he never completed. He remained active in the political landscape of his day, and during the May 1968 strikes, was arrested. President Charles de Gaulle pardoned him, saying, “You don't arrest Voltaire.” Sartre’s health slowly deteriorated throughout the 1970s until he met his end on April 15, 1980, from a case of edema in his lungs. He was seventy-four years old. Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral, all of whom he fought for in one way or another. He desired to be remembered by a few of his works: Nausea, No Exit, The Devil and the Good Lord, the Critique, and his essay “Saint Genet.” “If these are remembered,” he asserted, “that would be quite an achievement, and I don’t ask for more.”

    Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) was a pioneering intellectual and proponent of existentialism who championed leftist causes in France and other countries. He wrote a number of books, including the high...

    SALVADOR DALI (May 11, 1904 - January 23, 1989) Spanish surrealist painter, filmmaker, and eccentric. Main accomplishments:
    • Produced over 1500 paintings, including The Invisible Man (1929), The Persistence of Memory (1931), and The Face Of War (1941).
    • Drove the surrealist movement and served as its representative in the public eye; mixed surrealism and psychoanalysis to explore the human subconscious through art.
    • Collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney on film sequences.
      Although inspired by Renaissance masters, Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer Salvador Dalí is known to the general public for his bizarre and eccentric surrealist images. To this day, his versatile style and imagery exert considerable influence on artists the world over. EARLY LIFE The flamboyant and famous surrealist Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech was born in Catalonia, Spain, near the French border. He often claimed descent from the Moors, who had once conquered Spain, claiming this ancestry was the source for his flamboyance and passion for excess. The son of a lawyer and his servant, he was named after their older son who had died nine months before he was born (presumably a day or two before his conception), and was told that he was the reincarnation of the older boy. This bizarre circumstance probably contributed to Dalí's lifelong eccentricities—or indicated some oddness in his parents that they passed on to him. His mother, who had encouraged his artistic ambitions, died when he was sixteen, and his father married her sister—which pleased Dalí, who was close to his mother's family. He left for Madrid to study art at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. While studying there, he began to affect an eccentric style, wearing clothes a hundred years out of fashion with long sideburns and shaggy hair. In school, he dabbled with Dada and Cubism and was expelled just before his final examinations when he declared that no one among the faculty was qualified to judge his work. Around this time, he cultivated the mustache that would be so closely associated with his image throughout his life. He also made the acquaintance of many of the major European artists of the day, including his idol Pablo Picasso. CAREER BEGINNINGS Dali first began to rise to fame in 1925, with his first one-man show in Barcelona. That fame reached international status in 1928 when three of his paintings, one of which was The Basket of Bread, were shown in the annual Carnegie International Exhibition. The following year was a life-changing one for Dali. After a one-man show in Paris, he joined the Surrealist movement led by Andre Breton which was also the year that he met his muse, lover, and future wife—Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, a Russian immigrant who went by the name of Gala. The fact that she was married to one of Dali’s peers, the surrealist poet Paul Éluard, did nothing to stop their burgeoning romance. Later in 1929, Dalí collaborated with friend and filmmaker Luis Bunuel on the famous 17-minute surrealist film Un Chien Andalou, which opens with the simulated slicing of an eyeball. Dalí did little more than assist with the script, but only two years later he painted his most famous work: The Persistence of Memory. Better known to the general public as "the melting clocks painting," Persistence of Memory is a 24x33 cm oil painting of pocket watches draped over the landscape, as flimsy and flexible as a wet cloth. A detail often missed in prints behind the odd (perhaps beached, perhaps dead) Leviathan-like creature, is a human figure that is probably a self-portrait of the artist. THE ECCENTRIC ARTIST Throughout the 1930s, Dalí was well-received in artistic circles around the world, especially New York, where his flamboyance was enjoyed, and in London, where he delivered a lecture while wearing a diving suit accompanied by a pair of dogs. He alienated much of the surrealist community when he supported the regime of Spanish fascist Francisco Franco, a rift that was never healed; they expelled him altogether, while he retorted that without him, there was no surrealism. He and his wife moved to the United States when World War II broke out in Europe, as many European artists and intellectuals did. They eventually moved back to Spain at the end of the 40s, again facing criticism for returning while Franco was still in power. Dali’s disdain for his former peers continued throughout his life; he once famously proclaimed, “The only difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a surrealist.” Much of Dalí's work was symbolic to such a heavy extent that there's no apparent meaning in looking at the painting. Only a closer examination—informed by knowledge of his comments and body of work—reveals anything beyond the compelling image. His 1944 painting Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening portrays his naked wife reclining on a stone slab, while tigers pounce in the air above her and an elephant with long spindly legs (a frequent image in his work from this point on) floats in the background. A partially eaten pomegranate looms near the horizon like a rising sun. Like a dream in the hands of a psychoanalyst, the painting offers rich detail and memorable imagery, open to any number of interpretations. He was also a sculptor and fashioned a variety of surrealist objects, famously including a telephone with a lobster as its handset, and a sofa shaped like a movie star and sex symbol Mae West's mouth to accompany his 1935 painting The Face of Mae West. Alfred Hitchcock shared his fascination with psychoanalysis, and Dalí's co-direction of the dream sequences in Spellbound remains a moment of genius amidst a movie now lamented as the worst of Hitchcock's work. In the 1940s, Dalí even collaborated with Walt Disney on a short cartoon called Destino; the cartoon was never completed in its creators' lifetimes, but in the twenty-first century, animators completed it based on the original storyboards. Although finally finished in 2003, Destino was not released on home video until 2010. THE ARTIST’S END Dalí was a successful painter and sculptor all his life. He remained famous enough that he never faced poverty as so many artists do, and he took a number of well-known commercial projects (including high-profile advertisements and product logos). When Gala died in 1982, Dali’s health began to flag. His growing health concerns were accelerated by a house fire in 1984 that left him badly burned, as well as the subsequent implantation of a pacemaker two years later. The iconic eccentric finally died in 1989, seven years after his wife. Though he is alleged to have attempted suicide several times following her death, it was finally heart failure that ended his life at the age of 84. In a twist that the famous self-publicist might have appreciated, Dalí passed away in the tower of his own Dalí Theater And Museum, where he had been living for the last five years of his life.

    Although inspired by Renaissance masters, Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) is known to the general public for his bizarre and eccentric surrealist...

    THEODOR ADORNO (September 11, 1903 - August 6, 1969) German philosopher, sociologist, and composer. Major Accomplishments:
    • Wrote large bodies of work on philosophy, aesthetics, and human suffering.
    • Wrote the highly influential Minima Moralia (1951) and Negative Dialectics (1967).
    • Made noteworthy contributions to the critique of authoritarianism.
      Theodor Adorno was a towering figure in German and American intellectual life. As one of the key members of the group of scholars known as the Frankfurt School, Adorno played a crucial role in the development of critical theory and the critique of the mass media, famously popularizing the term “the culture industry” to describe the standardization and commodification of the arts in contemporary society. His philosophical writings and his critique of fascism remain extraordinarily influential, and an increasing number of writers acknowledge how prescient he was in diagnosing the tendencies in modern life that lead people to embrace authoritarianism and conformity. EARLY LIFE Born into a middle-class Frankfurt family in the early years of the 20th century, Adorno was the only child of an assimilated Jewish father who was a wine merchant and a Corsican Catholic mother who, along with her sister had performed professionally as a vocalist. The infant Theodor Wiesengrund, as he was known at birth, would go onto have a life so full of experiences and rich with identities so as to defy the idea of simplicity. As a child, Adorno learned music from his mother and aunt, and he read Kant’s First Critique with Siegfried Kracauer when Adorno was a teenager and Kracauer was in his 30s. Initially pursuing a career as a composer, in the 1920s the young Adorno studied composition with Alban Berg in Vienna and encountered Arnold Schoenberg and his circle at the height of the development of “modern” music. Rather than continuing his musical studies and a budding career as a music critic, Adorno returned to his initial training as a philosopher at the University of Frankfurt, writing his Habilitationschrift (dissertation) on Kierkegaard’s aesthetics. The young scholar affiliated himself with the Institute for Social Research at the University in Frankfurt and began a lifelong professional collaboration with the institute’s eventual director, Max Horkheimer. During this time, he also cultivated a relationship with the philosopher and social critic Walter Benjamin that stands as one of the great intellectual friendships of the 20th century. Adorno left Germany in 1935 in the wake of the ascension of Nazism, and settled in exile, first in Oxford, England, then in 1938 in New York, and finally in Los Angeles in 1941. CAREER As “enemy aliens” in America, Adorno and his wife Gretl, who he had married in 1937, experienced not only new ideas, new patterns of thought, and new ways of doing scholarship and research, but they also found themselves in a community of fellow exiles and refugees experiencing much of European cultural and intellectual life being conducted in—and transformed by—America. While in the States, through the support of Horkheimer and the newly re-constituted Institute for Social Research, Adorno joined nationally prominent social science research teams examining radio broadcasting and anti-Semitism. During his exile, he also found himself being watched by the FBI; befriending Thomas Mann and advising him on the music passages for Mann’s exile masterpiece Doctor Faustus; and attending parties with Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo, and Bertolt Brecht while at the same time writing influential books in a number of fields including musicology, philosophy, and sociology. Returning to Germany in the late 1940s and early 50s, Adorno was easily one of the recovering nation’s most important exile philosophers and helped reconstitute the University in Frankfurt, marrying American and European Social science research methods. After his return, Adorno found himself one of the most famous public intellectuals in postwar Europe, well-known enough to get casually mentioned in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, and regularly holding forth on German radio about the exile experience and the question of what it meant to be German in the wake of the war. In the 1960s he became a lightning rod for the new left, rejected as superannuated and stodgy while his exile colleague Herbert Marcuse was lionized by the student movements in both Europe and America. This challenge by the new left came to a head when he was accosted by a group of students during a lecture, some of whom removed their clothing and decorated Adorno’s head with flowers. After events like this 1969 “Busenaktion” (“Breast-Action”), Adorno took a leave from teaching in Switzerland. END OF LIFE On August 6, 1969, in Visp, Switzerland, Theodor Adorno passed away soon after publishing his capstone philosophical work, Negative Dialectics, and just before completing his last major statement of art, Aesthetic Theory. According to an obituary written by Gretl, he “died quietly in his sleep” as the result of a heart attack, a quiet end of the multiple, complicated lives, of a man whose career tracks influenced some of the major shifts in 20th-century intellectual life, and whose physical circumstances put him into close contact with some of the most famous artists and thinkers of the 20th century.

    THEODOR ADORNO (September 11, 1903 – August 6, 1969) German philosopher, sociologist, and composer. Major Accomplishments: Wrote large bodies of work on philosophy, aesthetics, and human sufferi...

    GEORGE ORWELL (June 25, 1903 – January 21, 1950) English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic whose work is characterized by his opposition to totalitarianism and his commitment to democratic socialism. Main accomplishments:
    • Wrote several influential novels, including Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949).
    • Contributed numerous essays and articles to a variety of publications, including The New Statesman, Tribune, and The Observer.
    • Served as a correspondent for the BBC and fought in the Spanish Civil War.
    Best known for his novels Animal Farm and 1984, British novelist, essayist, and journalist George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His work, which is characterized by his opposition to totalitarianism and his commitment to democratic socialism, has had a lasting impact on literature and political discourse. Orwell is remembered as a powerful voice for democracy and freedom, and his ideas and concepts, such as "Big Brother" and "thoughtcrime," have become part of the cultural lexicon. In addition to his novels, Orwell was a prolific essayist and journalist, contributing numerous articles and essays to a variety of publications. He also served as a correspondent for the BBC and fought in the Spanish Civil War. Despite struggling with poor health for much of his life, Orwell's writing continues to be widely read and revered. EARLY LIFE George Orwell, whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, was born in Motihari, Bihar, India to Richard Walmesley Blair and Ida Mabel Blair. His father worked in the opium department of the Indian Civil Service and the family enjoyed a privileged upbringing. Orwell was sent to England at the age of one to be raised by his mother's sister and her husband, who were based in Henley-on-Thames. He attended a series of schools, including St. Cyprian's School, where he was considered a poor student and was often bullied. After completing his education, Orwell worked as a police officer in Burma and then returned to England, where he began his career as a writer. He worked as a tutor and a teacher before publishing his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, in 1933. This work, which described his experiences of poverty and homelessness in Paris and London, established him as an important new voice in literature. CAREER Orwell's literary career took off in the 1940s with the publication of two highly influential novels, Animal Farm and 1984. Animal Farm, a political allegory about the dangers of totalitarianism, was published in 1945 and became a bestseller. 1984, a dystopian novel about a society in which the government controls every aspect of people's lives, was published in 1949 and remains one of the most famous and widely read novels of the 20th century. In addition to his novels, Orwell was a prolific essayist and journalist. He contributed numerous essays and articles to a variety of publications, including The New Statesman, Tribune, and The Observer. He also served as a correspondent for the BBC during the Spanish Civil War, where he was badly injured. PERSONAL LIFE Orwell was married twice, first to Eileen O'Shaughnessy and then to Sonia Brownell. He had one son, Richard Horatio Blair, with his first wife. Orwell struggled with poor health for much of his life and died at the age of 46 from complications related to tuberculosis. LEGACY Orwell's writing has had a lasting impact on literature and political discourse. His books are still widely read and his ideas and concepts, such as "Big Brother" and "thoughtcrime," have become part of the cultural lexicon. He is remembered as a powerful voice for democracy and freedom and his work continues to be relevant in today's political climate.  

    GEORGE ORWELL (June 25, 1903 – January 21, 1950) English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic whose work is characterized by his opposition to totalitarianism and his commitment to democratic ...

    PAUL DIRAC (August 8th, 1902 – October 20th, 1984) British theoretical physicist. Main accomplishments:
    • Author of Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1930), Lectures on Quantum Mechanics (1966), and Spinors in Hilbert Space (1974), among others. Principles, in particular, is considered to be a staple of quantum mechanics and one of the most important mathematical textbooks ever written.
    • Winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shared jointly with fellow physicist Erwin Schrödinger.
    • Predicted the existence of antimatter in 1931 when he proposed the existence of oppositely-charged electrons, which we now refer to as positrons. Dirac’s proposal marked the first time a scientific discovery was made using entirely theoretical physics.
    • Bridged the gap between Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum mechanics through his Dirac equation, which describes the behavior of electrons. Dirac’s equation was a vital step in expanding our understanding of quantum theory.
      Paul Dirac was a brilliant mathematician and a 1933 Nobel laureate whose work ranks alongside that of Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. Although not as well known as his famous contemporaries Werner Heisenberg and Richard Feynman, his influence on the course of physics was immense. His landmark book, The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, introduced that new science to the world, and his “Dirac equation” was the first theory to reconcile special relativity and quantum mechanics. EARLY LIFE For all his later genius, Paul Dirac’s early childhood was not a happy one. He was born to a Swiss father and British mother in Bristol, England in 1902, the middle child of three siblings. By all accounts, Paul’s father Charles was an extremely strict parent who alienated his children considerably. When Paul was a young man in 1925, tragedy struck: his older brother Felix committed suicide, shocking the family and further straining Dirac’s unsteady relationship with his parents. As a young student, Dirac excelled at mathematics, and in 1918, he began studying electrical engineering at the University of Bristol. Although his primary interest was mathematics, he chose to study engineering instead because he did not believe there was a career in mathematics outside of school teaching. Ironically, he was unable to find work as an engineer after graduation—but thankfully he was offered a two-year scholarship to return to the University and study mathematics free of charge. Dirac jumped on the opportunity and never glanced back at engineering: after his two years had been up, he took a position as a research assistant at the mathematics department of St. John’s College in Cambridge. RESEARCHING CAREER Dirac had encountered and subsequently been fascinated by Einstein’s theory of relativity while studying at Bristol, but it wasn’t until his arrival at Cambridge in 1923 that he was able to apply himself to it. Under the supervision of Ralph Fowler, he began to produce research papers that marked his burgeoning interest in quantum mechanics. It was Fowler who introduced Dirac to the works of Werner Heisenberg, sparking a passion for all things quantum that would remain with Dirac to the end of his life. Inspired by Heisenberg and what he saw as an analogy to the classical Poisson brackets, Dirac bridged quantum and classical mechanics and created a generalized form of quantum mechanics the world had never before seen. He published this in the form of his doctoral thesis, earning him his Ph.D. in 1926 at the incredibly young age of 24. Dirac was elected a Fellow of Cambridge in 1927, and he would remain at the college throughout the rest of his career. His landmark book, Principles of Quantum Mechanics, was published in 1930 to considerable success in the mathematics community. He became a professor of mathematics in 1932, and the following year won the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory," which he shared with Erwin Schrödinger. Dirac, fearful of the publicity it would bring, initially planned to reject the Prize, but ultimately accepted it after he realized that turning it down would garner far more attention than simply accepting it. A consensus among modern historians is that Dirac was autistic: records of his behavior show that he displayed many of the classic signs of autism. He was famously shy, intensely logical, and expressed difficulty relating to other people. A story goes that Dirac and Heisenberg were traveling aboard a cruise ship together en route to a conference in Japan, and Dirac asked Heisenberg why he danced. “When there are nice girls, it is a pleasure,” Heisenberg answered- to which Dirac replied, after a moment of thought, “But how do you know beforehand if the girls are nice?” At Cambridge, Dirac’s colleagues jokingly defined a “dirac” as a unit of one spoken word per hour. According to Dirac biographer Graham Farmelo, he cried only once in his adult lifetime: upon learning that his friend Einstein had passed away in 1955. LATER LIFE Dirac taught mathematics at Cambridge for 33 years. In 1937, he married Margaret Wigner, the sister of noted Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner. He also adopted her sons from a previous marriage; Gabriel Dirac went on to become a famous mathematician in his own right. During his time at Cambridge, Dirac put out several research papers addressing cosmology and quantum theory; his lectures, mostly taken from Principles of Quantum Mechanics, effectively introduced students to quantum mechanics. Finally retiring from Cambridge in 1969, Dirac moved his family to Florida. He became a professor of physics at Florida State University in 1971, and two years later was awarded the Order of Merit. Dirac died in Tallahassee, Florida in 1984 at the ripe old age of 82. SUGGESTED READING [table id=22 /]

    One of the world’s most accomplished theoretical physicists, Paul Dirac (1902–1984) stands as one of the founders of quantum mechanics. A brilliant mathematician and a 1933 Nobel laureate, Dirac i...

    JOHN STEINBECK (February 27th, 1902 – December 20th, 1968) American writer. Main accomplishments:
    • During WWII, served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune.
    • Winner of the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature, the United States Medal of Freedom in 1964, and the Annual Paperback of the Year award in the same year.
    • Author of 16 novels, six short story collections, and six non-fiction works, including Of Mice And Men (1937), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and East of Eden (1952).
    • Namesake of the John Steinbeck Award presented annually to artists who capture "the spirit of Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man."
      Best known as the author of such famous novels as Of Mice And Men and The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck was an award-winning American writer and perhaps the most prominent literary voice of the Great Depression. His hard-hitting novels illuminated the plight of the working class during the Dust Bowl era and examined the vulnerabilities of the American Dream. Today his books continue to be studied and enjoyed around the world. EARLY LIFE Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, and his works would focus on the West Coast throughout his life. Steinbeck’s mother, Olive, was an avid reader and passed her love for literature down to her son. Indeed, both of Steinbeck’s parents were very loving and supportive of John’s literary ambitions, often taking him to the theater to encourage a passion for storytelling. Growing up, Steinbeck often explored the Salinas Valley, which would become the primary backdrop for his later works. Upon graduation from high school, he attended Stanford University until 1925, earning his tuition by working manual labor jobs around Salinas and gaining an appreciation for the plight of the working class. In 1925, he left school without a degree, traveling to New York in search of a publisher for his works. His search was in vain, and the following year he was forced to return to California. WRITING CAREER In 1929, Steinbeck finally managed to get his first novel published: Cup of Gold, a historical fiction story based on the life of privateer Henry Morgan. The following year he met two of the most important people in his life: his first wife, Carol Henning, and Ed Ricketts, a lifelong friend. Throughout the 1930s, Steinbeck truly established himself as a writer of no small credit. Between 1930 and 1939 he wrote eight full-length novels, including both of his most famous masterpieces: 1937’s Of Mice and Men and 1939’s The Grapes of Wrath. The awards came shortly afterward: a Commonwealth of California Gold Medal for Tortilla Flat in 1935, a Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Mice in 1938, and more. Steinbeck’s novels illustrated what it meant to be a poor, working-class American. He traveled the country frequently and used the experiences in his writing; it is said that the inspiration for Grapes of Wrath came about after a four-week stint working with migrant workers. A self-described Democrat, he wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 protesting the internment of Japanese-Americans. Steinbeck’s leftist leanings can be found throughout his body of work; he was intensely sympathetic toward the underprivileged and the downtrodden. 1942 was also the year he divorced Carol and married Gwyndolyn Conger, with whom he would have two children. WORLD WAR II Starting in 1943, Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. His articles were published in 1958 under the title Once There Was A War. Like Ernest Hemingway, Steinbeck chronicled the events and the trials suffered by American soldiers, but unlike Hemingway, he mostly kept himself out of the narrative. He covered American training in London, the Italian campaign, and even traveled to North Africa, writing to Gwyndolyn that “it is almost impossible to keep clean here.” During his wartime travels Steinbeck encountered many other famous writers of the day, including Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Arthur Miller, the latter of whom he would later defend against Joseph McCarthy’s investigations in the 1950s. After being wounded by shrapnel in North Africa in 1944, Steinbeck finally headed home, returning to America just a year before the war’s end. LATER LIFE In 1948, Steinbeck suffered a series of misfortunes: a bitter divorce from Gwyndolyn and the death of his dear friend Ed Ricketts, who was killed in a car accident. Writing turned out to be an excellent remedy for the pain and depression—that same year he published A Russian Journal, an account of his travels in the Soviet Union. In 1950, Steinbeck married again, this time to Elaine Scott. Two years later he finished East of Eden, the work he considered his masterpiece, for which, as he put it, “I have been practicing to write all my life.” Eden was a critical success, and Steinbeck continued to write throughout the next few decades, even becoming a Vietnam War correspondent during his final years in the 1960s. He passed away in 1968 of heart failure brought on by his years of smoking. Per his request, his ashes were buried in the Salinas Valley.

    Best known as the author of such famous novels as Of Mice And Men and The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (1902–1968) was an award-winning American writer and perhaps the most prominent literary ...

    WERNER HEISENBERG (December 5th, 1901 – February 1st, 1976) German theoretical physicist and philosopher. Main accomplishments:
    • Developed the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
    • Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932.
    • Co-founder of the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN).
      One of the most influential physicists of the 20th century, Werner Heisenberg was the founder of the uncertainty principle and one of the founders of quantum mechanics. He also played a controversial role as a leader of Nazi Germany’s nuclear program during World War II. EARLY LIFE Werner Heisenberg was born on December 5, 1901, to Dr. August Heisenberg and Annie Wecklein. August was a professor of Greek philology and literature at the University of Munich. As a child, Heisenberg studied at the Maximilians Gymnasium in Munich. During high school, he had to leave to harvest crops in Bavaria because of the destruction left by World War I. After the war, he volunteered with the Democratic Socialists in Munich to overthrow the communist government that had taken over Bavaria. He became a New Boy Scout and was involved in other youth programs in attempts to better the German community. In 1920, he attended the University of Munich to study math, soon transferring to physics. Professors there at the time included Arnold Sommerfeld, Wilhelm Wien, Alfred Pringsheim, and Arthur Rosenthal. In the winter of 1922, he traveled to continue studying physics in Göttingen because Max Born, James Franck, and David Hilbert were teaching there. In 1923, Heisenberg earned his Ph.D. from the University of Munich. His advisor had to advocate for him because he almost failed due to neglect of lab work. He went again to Göttingen because he was offered the position of assistant to Max Born, and by 1924, was authorized to teach there. From there, he traveled to the University of Copenhagen to work with Rockefeller Grant and Niels Bohr, where he stayed until the summer of 1925. CAREER In the summer of 1925, Heisenberg published his work on quantum mechanics. He attempted to explain the energy movements of electrons within atoms, and though his work was a breakthrough; it was soon overshadowed by the clearer wave equation discovered by Erwin Schrödinger. However, the two systems were identical, as proved by Schrödinger, and only differed in their visual representations. Regardless, he was only 23 at the time, and his work laid the foundation for the discovery of allotropic forms of hydrogen. In 1926, Heisenberg was appointed Lecturer in Theoretical Physics under Niels Bohr at the University of Copenhagen. He went back to Göttingen for the summer, and by 1927, he had become a professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Leipzig. He was the youngest professor in Germany. In 1929, Heisenberg toured the U.S., Japan, and India giving lectures. In 1932, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory of quantum mechanics. During the 1930s, many scientists left Germany because of Hitler, though Heisenberg remained in an attempt to preserve traditions. Soon, Hitler controlled the universities, and the government, recognizing Heisenberg's intelligence as important, named him director of the German bomb project. Heisenberg had no choice but to work on it, because the Nazis perceived theoretical physics as Jewish, and his life was in danger. He spent five years on the bomb project. In 1937, Heisenberg married Elisabeth Schumacher. Together they had seven children. In 1941, Heisenberg became the professor of physics at the University of Berlin, as well as attaining the position of director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. Heisenberg was taken prisoner by American soldiers near the end of World War II and shipped to England for six months. By 1946, he had returned to Göttingen and reorganized the Institute for Physics there with his colleagues. In 1948, Heisenberg went back to England, this time to Cambridge, to lecture there, and by 1950 was invited to do the same in the U.S. In 1955 he traveled to Scotland to lecture at the University of St. Andrews, giving the annual Gifford Lectures, which were later published. In 1955, as the Director of the Institute of Physics, he moved the Institute to Munich, where it was renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics. There, he was appointed professor of physics in 1958. During this time, he formulated his principle of uncertainty, a theory in quantum physics. LATER LIFE He held various administrative positions and continued to lecture around the world, representing Germany at international events. In 1970, Heisenberg retired. In the summer of 1972, he toured the U.S. once more as a lecturer. He died of gallbladder and kidney cancer on February 1, 1976, at the age of 74. He was survived by his wife and seven children.

    One of the most influential physicists of the 20th century, Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976) was the founder of the uncertainty principle and one of the founders of quantum mechanics. He also played ...

    Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 - May 22, 1967)
    A poet and writer, Langston Hughes was one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Main Accomplishments:
    • Penned his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” as a teenager.
    • Published his autobiography, The Big Sea (1940)
    • Wrote the Simple series, which exposed racial inequality and injustice
      American poet, novelist, playwright, and social activist Langston Hughes contributed to the flourishing literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Through his poems, stories, and essays, Hughes became known for his authentic portrayal of Black American life. Certainly a controversial figure, many of Hughes’ fans hailed him as one of the greatest poets of all time, yet there were many others, such as James Baldwin, who regarded him as a disgrace to the Black community. Nevertheless, Hughes’ impact on the literary world and race relations in the United States is undeniable. 
    James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902. He was born to James Hughes and Carrie Langston, who divorced not too long after Hughes was born. After the divorce, Hughes’ father moved to Mexico, leaving his mother alone and without a sufficient income. His mother perpetually traveled around the country in search of work, which meant that the young Hughes spent most his childhood at his grandmother’s house in Kansas. Mary Langston, Hughes’ grandmother, was a major force in developing his knack for creativity. She was the first Black woman to attend Oberlin College in Ohio, and her love for the arts undoubtedly rubbed off on her grandson. She frequently told Hughes stories about the past and showed him the beauty of his culture.  When Hughes was 13-years-old, his grandmother passed away, meaning that he now had to move in with his mother and her husband in Lincoln, Illinois. The reconciled family quickly moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and Hughes—now 14-years-old—attended Central High School. It was here where his first stories were published in the school’s literary journal titled The Monthly. While studying at Central High, one of Hughes’ English instructors introduced him to the poetry of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, two primary influences on Hughes’ style. Hughes once remarked that Whitman was “America’s greatest poet,” and frequently praised his work.  Upon graduating from high school, Hughes moved to Mexico and spent a year there with his father. While on board his train to Mexico, Hughes penned the words: “I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins,” which served as the opening stanza to his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The poem was soon published in The Crisis magazine.  Upon returning to the United States in 1921, Hughes attended Columbia University and studied engineering. While in New York, he became entranced by the booming culture of Harlem. He dropped out of his engineering program after a year and took on various part-time jobs in restaurants around the metropolitan area. He eventually found a more stable job working as a seaman on board a ship that took him to Africa and Europe. Following a brief stint in Paris, Hughes moved back to the States in 1924 and settled in Washington, D.C. He soon picked up a job in a local restaurant.  In 1925, Hughes met Vachel Lindsay, the founder of modern singing poetry, at the restaurant he worked at. Hughes showed the poet some of his work and Lindsay enjoyed it so much that he used his prominent position to offer Hughes some free advertisement. Hughes’ career was now set to take off. 
    Following his encounter with Lindsay, Hughes’ poem “The Weary Blues” won a literary competition held by Opportunity magazine. Hughes then received a scholarship to Lincoln University, revitalizing his chances of fulfilling his educational goals.  While studying at Lincoln, Hughes’ first poetry collection, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf. Once again, Hughes’ connections provided him with opportunities to grow. In this instance, his connection with Carl Van Vechten, a literary critic and novelist, who vouched for The Weary Blues’s publication, granted Hughes’ career an appreciated jolt.  In 1930, soon after graduating from Lincoln University, Hughes published his first novel, Not Without Laughter, through Alfred A. Knopf. The book won the Harmon gold medal for literature and earned Hughes enough money to make writing his full-time vocation.  Throughout the 1930s Hughes continued writing and publishing. During this decade, he also served as a war correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. In 1940, Hughes published an autobiography titled The Big Sea. In this work, Hughes responded to some critics who did not support the manner in which he portrayed Black life and culture. “The Negro critics and many of the intellectuals were very sensitive about their race in books. (And still are)” Hughes retorted. “In anything that white people were likely to read, they wanted to put their best foot forward, their politely polished and cultural foot—and only that foot.” Hughes’ authenticity won him favor among literary magazines and what he referred to as “the white press.” He continued writing in his genuine fashion and contributed to a column in the Chicago Defender. Here, Hughes utilized a character by the name of “Simple” who was an archetype of the average black working-class citizen. It was through these columns that Hughes contributed to social discussions regarding racial injustice and inequality. His “Simple” columns developed into the books Simple Speaks His Mind (1950), Simple Takes a Wife (1953), Simple Stakes a Claim (1957), and Simple's Uncle Sam (1965). In 1953, Hughes wrote one of his most famous poems, “Harlem” or “What happens to a dream deferred?” In this monumental poem, Hughes exposed the manner in which the American Dream did not extend to members of the Black community. For Hughes, the American Dream stank “like rotten meat.” Through powerful works such as this, Hughes left an indelible mark on the history of the United States. Not only have his words greatly impacted the literary community, but also American society as a whole. 
    Toward the end of his life, Hughes suffered from prostate cancer. On May 22, 1967, while lying in his apartment on East 127th Street, Hughes passed away. He was 65-years-old. His memorial was filled with jazz music and his ashes were placed beneath the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The inscription above the spot where his ashes lay contains the line, “My soul has grown deep like the rivers,” from his poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”

    American poet, novelist, playwright, and social activist Langston Hughes contributed to the flourishing literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Through his poems, stories, and essays, Hughe...

    ALFRED HITCHCOCK (August 13, 1899 - April 29, 1980) British film director, writer, and producer. Main accomplishments:
    • Nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for his work in the suspense and psychological thriller genres
    • Created over 50 films, including Rear Window (1954), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963)
    • Recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979
    • Winner of 25 different film awards, including an Academy Award and two Golden Globes
      From Dial M for Murder and Vertigo to North by NorthwestPsycho, and The BirdsAlfred Hitchcock made some of the most memorable thrillers in the history of cinema. Acclaimed for both his daring artistic innovations and his irrepressible showmanship, Hitchcock blended suspense, humor, and psychologically unsettling themes to create an extraordinary body of work. EARLY LIFE Hitchcock was born in London, the middle child of a Catholic grocer. He told a number of stories about his upbringing, characterizing it as solitary despite his siblings, overseen by his sternly formal parents. Aspects of his mother were borrowed for his popular movie Psycho, including her insistence on his formal address to her from the foot of her bed and her making him stand silently for hours as punishment. At least once, his father had him locked briefly in a jail cell as punishment. It’s not that his parents were necessarily cruel, especially by the standards of the turn of the century England—but their stoic discipline only enhanced young Hitchcock's feelings of isolation. This early exposure to strict authority—to unfair punishment and feelings of guilt—led to his lifelong fear of the police, and, in turn, is probably responsible for the majority of his films dealing with crime in one way or another. It is possible that he took the blame for the actions of his siblings, too, or, at least, felt that he did. One of the strongest recurring themes in his work is that of an innocent person suffering the consequences of another individual's crimes. As a young man, Hitchcock worked in advertising before becoming interested in film, applying his experience in graphic design for a job creating the title sequences for silent movies. He worked in similar roles in the burgeoning film industry for five years before directing The Pleasure Garden in 1925. Filmed in Germany, home to many of Hitchcock's visual influences, the melodrama of madness and murder centers around betrayal and adultery, setting the stage for his reputation as a director of particularly "sexualized" films. In the following years, Hitchcock continued to develop as a filmmaker and grew in reputation. At the increased pace of the silent era, which produced significantly shorter movies than is done today, with fewer retakes and locations, he directed a dozen movies by the end of the decade. Among them was Blackmail, the first full-fledged “talkie” of the British pictures. GROUNDBREAKING WORK Hitchcock had less trouble adapting to new technology than most directors, and seems to have had little difficulty moving to longer formats and telling more detailed or layered stories. His star Anny Ondra did not fare as well—her thick Eastern European accent contrasted for English-speaking audiences with her classic, glamorous good looks, and her career did not extend much further than Blackmail. Hitchcock released both a voiced and a silent version of Blackmail simultaneously, and Anny’s accent may have been responsible for the silent version proving the most popular of the two. The lion's share of the responsibility for that success, however, lies in the fact that most British movie houses—especially outside of London—were not yet equipped for sound. The 1930s were a fertile period for Hitchcock and saw the release of his best-known and best-remembered movie from his pre-Hollywood time: The 39 Steps, based on the John Buchan novel was the movie that introduced the film concept most associated with Hitchcock. The “MacGuffin,” a plot device that drives the story but is essentially unimportant to it in its specifics. The best non-Hitchcock example of a MacGuffin is The Maltese Falcon in the novel and movie of the same name: the fact that the statue is a falcon—or even that it is a statue—is entirely irrelevant, and all that matters is that there is a prized object over which many characters are fighting. A more recent and sly example is the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, the contents of which are never even revealed. A MacGuffin provides motivation, but all that matters is that the characters want to obtain it, which automatically builds conflict as multiple characters cannot all have it. It was also during this period that Hitchcock became known for his disparaging remarks about actors—like many directors with a strong vision, he seems to have had little patience with performers who wanted any input beyond following his instructions, and only contempt for actors who felt a role was beneath them (as was often the case with theatrical actors working in cinema). He had a noted dislike for method acting, believing that actors should focus only on the role at hand and leave characterization to the writers and director. In response to a question from a fan about whether he actually once said that “actors are cattle,” Hitchcock replied: “No, what I really said was that actors should be treated like cattle.” Hitchcock himself made a cameo appearance in each of his films—often only briefly, especially in the last half of his career when he was famous enough that the general public knew him on sight. The end of the 1930s saw the maturation of the Hollywood movie, as sound better film stock, and more sophisticated plots combined into some of the best-loved films of the Golden Age—including the original King Kong, A Star Is Born, and Gone With The Wind, all of which were produced by David O. Selznick. Selznick convinced Hitchcock to relocate to Hollywood, by now well-established as the center of the popular movie industry. Hitch's first American movie—set in England and based on the English novel by Daphne du Maurier—was the 1940s thriller Rebecca, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, major movie stars whose sophistication suited a British director's first Hollywood venture. Hitchcock did not enjoy working according to Selznick's specifications, and he seems to have lost some of his focus in the 1940s, moving away from his usual areas of focus to direct a courtroom thriller and a romantic comedy, as well as a documentary for the British Army about the Nazi concentration camps. But the decade also saw him direct his favorite movie Shadow of a Doubt, which was one of his movies influenced by his interest in psychoanalysis (the less successful Spellbound that followed was an explicitly Freudian work, which quickly became dated but is notable for its dream sequence created by surrealist artist Salvador Dali).  It revolves around a young woman's suspicions that her uncle may be a serial killer. As intriguing as the movie is on a purely plot-driven level, there are a good many elements that have fascinated film theorists, from the fact that the young woman and her uncle have the same name to the serial killer's targeting of widows—women already defined by death. Shortly after Spellbound, Hitchcock was investigated by the FBI, because his new movie, Notorious, used uranium as its MacGuffin—a substance the public had little reason to be aware of since the development of nuclear weapons had not yet been revealed when the movie was in production. Notorious was also Hitch's first film with Cary Grant, who would star in several more of his films. But if any one star is associated with Hitchcock's movies, it is Jimmy Stewart, whose first collaboration with the director was 1948's Rope, a psychological thriller based on the Leopold and Loeb murders. Rope was shot with long, unbroken shots, around seven to nine minutes long, with minimal editing. The whole movie takes place on one set, a penthouse apartment where two young men are hosting a dinner, thrilled at the fact that none of the guests suspect they have killed a mutual friend whose body is concealed in the coffee table. Stewart plays the young men's philosophy professor, who exposed them to the Nietzschean ideas that inspired them to take a life—and in the end, he is the one who exposes them as well. Rope was also Hitch's first color film, and the use of the heavy Technicolor cameras not only made the long shots more complicated to set up, but made the effect that much more impressive—the lack of the cuts the audience is used to. The insistence of the camera on following its subject around adds to the feeling of tension in much the same way as a musical score does, but more subtly. More Stewart-Hitchcock collaborations followed, including a remake of Hitchcock's own The Man Who Knew Too Much, the paranoid voyeur drama Rear Window, and the classic Vertigo, which tied madness, mistaken identity, obsession, and paranoia together in one of the most "Hitchcockian" movies extant. The 1950s saw Hitchcock take more control of his work as he directed pictures for an assortment of studios. In addition to the Stewart pictures, he made To Catch a Thief with Grant and Grace Kelly; Kelly also starred in Rear Window and in the experimental Dial M For Murder, which was filmed in 3D (though it was not released in that format until a brief run in the 1980s). Without a doubt, his most famous movie is Psycho, the 1960s thriller starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. The influence of the film on modern cinema cannot be overstated: Hitch played with conventions by killing his apparent star early in the movie, by introducing a compelling twist ending, and by using 50 different shots (most of them close-ups) in the 2-minute shower scene in which Perkins' Norman Bates kills Leigh's character. Because the appeal of the movie depended so much on elements of surprise, Hitchcock did all the publicity and interviews himself, forbidding his actors from speaking to the media about the film. He even convinced theaters not to let customers in late. The movie was not only an enormous success, but it also helped to inspire and further the cinematic interest in the serial killer, the psychopath, the murderer who commits his crime for reasons that have nothing to do with revenge or criminal gain. One reason Hitch was able to do the publicity himself for Psycho was that he was by then a well-known public figure. One of the first film directors to recognize television as more than a fad, in 1955 he had created the show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” an anthology series in which he introduced each suspenseful episode with his droll, dry sense of humor. So involved was he with the TV series that he actually used many of the crew members in the production of Psycho—something unheard of in those days, long before it was common for professionals to migrate back and forth between TV and film. A PEACEFUL END After the 1960s, Hitchcock became considerably less prolific, filming a handful of thrillers before unofficially retiring. He died of renal failure at the age of 80 in 1980, four months after being made a Knight of the British Empire. Hitchcock had remained a British subject even after acquiring American citizenship, leaving him eligible for knighthood. His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

    The undisputed "master of suspense," Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) was an iconic film director and producer of over 50 movies, including Dial M for Murder, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, and ...