It might or might not have been a coincidence, but when Hollywood casting agents selected the actors for Eight Men Out in 1988, they chose several actors with close Illinois ties that certainly looked authentic in their parts as characters from the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. Studs Terkel was one of those who played a quintessential Chicago newspaper reporter. Another was John Mahoney from Quincy, Illinois who played White Sox Manager Kid Gleason and the great character actor John Anderson from Clayton, Illinois who played Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Author, radio broadcaster, and historian Studs Terkel is a Chicago institution. Studs was borh in New York on May 16, 1912. He was born a year after Ronald Reagan and a decade before workmen started construction on the Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue. His family moved to Chicago when he was ten in 1922 and he has been in "Chi Town" ever since. His father was a tailor and his mother was a seamstress. Studs had three brothers. From 1926 to 1936, Studs lived from age 14 to age 24 at the rooming house near Bughouse Square that his parents operated. It was about as ethnically a diverse neighborhood as Chicago then had to offer and was a rich educational experience for Studs who enjoyed meeting people with different backgrounds.
Studs earned a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1934 but did not practice law. He went to work for the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a voice over artist for radio shows, even soap operas. He also was a news and radio sports announcer. He married Ida Goldberg in 1939 and they had one son.
From 1952 to 1997, Studs was host of The Studs Terkel Program that was broadcast on WFMT-FM Radio in its later years. Here too, Studs took pride in his diverse guest list from politics, theater, sports, and music. In addition to his other skills, Studs Terkel as a writer has also been a sociologist for Chicago. In 1956, he published his first book called Giants of Jazz. In 1970, his popular book Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression came out.
He won the 1985 Pultizer Prize for his book The Good War. This book was an partial antidote to the themes that ran through Tom Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation and others that suggested that World War II was a time of only unity and common purpose without major dissent. While Terkel was successful in pointing out examples of disunity and internal debates during World War II, he did not however really persuade many readers that there was just as much dissention during World War II as during the war in Viet Nam which was supposed to be a news peg for the book.
In August 2005 at age 93, Studs had successful open heart surgery seldom attempted on a man of his age. In the spring of 2006 he was promoting a new book And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disk Jokey.