Sterling, Philip, 1907-1989

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Philip Sterling (1907-1989) began as the general publicity factotum for Columbia Broadcasting System in 1945. After 1960 he began writing and collaborating in biographies and children’s books. Sterling died from lung cancer in 1989 at his home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

From the guide to the Philip Sterling papers, 1947-1969, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

Philip Sterling was born in 1907. He began his career as the general publicity factotum for Columbia Broadcasting System in 1945. After 1960 he began writing and collaborating on biographies and children's books. Sterling died from lung cancer in 1989 at his home in Wellfleet, Mass.

From the description of Philip Sterling papers, 1947-1969. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 133186361

Philip Sterling (1907-1989) was a writer and a public relations executive who worked for the Columbia Broadcasting System for many years.

Born Philip Shatz in New Rochelle, New York, he worked as a copy editor and journalist for several newspapers in the Midwest and suburban New York from 1926 through 1931. During the 1930s, he found employment with government agencies, including serving as an associate editor for three years on the Film Index, a unit of the Federal Writers Project. Sterling, who legally changed his surname in 1936, began as a writer for CBS Radio in 1945. In 1959, he became the assistant director of press information. He later worked for CBS Television until his 1965 retirement. After 1960, Sterling published several books, primarily biographies and other children's literature. Among his most well-known works was Sea and Earth (1970), a biography of environmentalist Rachel Carson for young adults, which won a Christopher Award. Sterling, like his wife Dorothy (the former Dorothy Dannenberg, who also was a prolific writer of children's books), was particularly interested in researching and writing about prominent figures in African American history and the civil rights movement. His works for children on these topics include Four Took Freedom (1967) and The Question of Color (1973). Sterling also was interested in African American humor and vaudeville, editing the anthology, Laughing On the Outside: The Intelligent White Reader's Guide to Negro Tales and Humor (1965) and conducting extensive research on Bert Williams and his associates during the early 1960s.

Bert Williams (1873-1922) was one of the most influential African American entertainers of the early years of the twentieth century.

Born Egbert Austin Williams in Nassau, Bahamas, Williams spent much of his childhood in Riverside, California. He developed a comedy act with George Walker, whom he had met in San Francisco in 1893. By 1895, the two had made their way to the East Coast, eventually breaking into vaudeville in New York City. In keeping with the conventions of minstrelsy, Williams, as the comedian of the act, performed in blackface makeup. By appropriating demeaning stereotypes, however, the pair was able to break new ground and to exert greater creative control over their own material in such Broadway hits as In Dahomey (1902), Abyssinia (1906), and Bandanna Land (1906). Following Walker's retirement in 1909, Williams began appearing as a solo artist. He became the first African American performer to be featured in the Ziegfeld Follies (1911), playing in editions of the Follies regularly throughout the decade. Williams also became a successful recording artist. Having signed with the Shubert Brothers in 1920, Williams was touring with an all-black show, Under the Bamboo Tree (1921), at the time of his death.

From the description of Philip Sterling research materials on Bert Williams, 1899-1981 (bulk 1959-1962). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 175293890

Philip Sterling (1907-1989) was a writer and a public relations executive who worked for the Columbia Broadcasting System for many years. Born Philip Shatz in New Rochelle, New York, he worked as a copy editor and journalist for several newspapers in the Midwest and suburban New York from 1926 through 1931. During the 1930s, he found employment with government agencies, including serving as an associate editor for three years on the Film Index, a unit of the Federal Writers Project. Sterling, who legally changed his surname in 1936, began as a writer for CBS Radio in 1945. In 1959, he became the assistant director of press information. He later worked for CBS Television until his 1965 retirement. After 1960, Sterling published several books, primarily biographies and children's literature. Among his most well-known works was Sea and Earth (1970), a biography of environmentalist Rachel Carson for young adults, which won a Christopher Award. Sterling, like his wife Dorothy (the former Dorothy Dannenberg, who also was a prolific writer of children's books), was particularly interested in researching and writing about prominent figures in African American history and the civil rights movement. His works for children on these topics include Four Took Freedom (1967) and The Question of Color (1973). Sterling also was interested in African American humor and vaudeville, editing the anthology, Laughing On the Outside: The Intelligent White Reader's Guide to Negro Tales and Humor (1965) and conducting extensive research on Bert Williams and his associates during the early 1960s.

Bert Williams (1873-1922) was one of the most influential African American entertainers of the early years of the twentieth century. Born Egbert Austin Williams in Nassau, Bahamas, Williams spent much of his childhood in Riverside, California. He developed a comedy act with George Walker, whom he had met in San Francisco in 1893. By 1895, the two had made their way to the East Coast, eventually breaking into vaudeville in New York City. In keeping with the conventions of minstrelsy, Williams, as the comedian of the act, performed in blackface makeup. By appropriating demeaning stereotypes, however, the pair was able to break new ground and to exert greater creative control over their own material in such Broadway hits as In Dahomey (1902), Abyssinia (1906), and Bandanna Land (1906). Following Walker's retirement in 1909, Williams began appearing as a solo artist. He became the first African American performer to be featured in the Ziegfeld Follies (1911), playing in editions of the Follies regularly throughout the decade. Williams also became a successful recording artist. Having signed with the Shubert Brothers in 1920, Williams was touring with an all-black show, Under the Bamboo Tree (1921), at the time of his death.

From the guide to the Philip Sterling research materials on Bert Williams, 1899-1981, 1959-1962, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Sterling, Philip, 1907-1989. Philip Sterling papers, 1947-1969. University of Oregon Libraries, UO Libraries
creatorOf Philip Sterling research materials on Bert Williams, 1899-1981, 1959-1962 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Philip Sterling papers, 1947-1969 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
creatorOf Sterling, Philip, 1907-1989. Philip Sterling research materials on Bert Williams, 1899-1981 (bulk 1959-1962). New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964. person
associatedWith Columbia Broadcasting System, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. person
associatedWith Razaf, Andy, 1895-1973. person
associatedWith Shreeve, Eunice C person
associatedWith Shreeve, Eunice C. person
associatedWith Sterling, Dorothy, 1913-2008. person
associatedWith Tyler, Lottie person
associatedWith Tyler, Lottie. person
associatedWith Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964. person
associatedWith Walker, Aida Overton, 1880-1914. person
associatedWith Williams, Bert, 1874-1922. person
associatedWith Williams, Lottie Cole Thompson person
associatedWith Williams, Lottie Cole Thompson. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Authors, American--20th century
Photographs
Publicity
Media and Communication
Broadcasting
Advertising and Marketing
Literature
Broadcasting--United States
Radio broadcasting
Radio broadcasting--United States
African American entertainers
Publicity--United States
Occupation
Correspondence
Biographers
Entertainers
Function

Person

Birth 1907-07-12

Death 1989-09-11

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