Alex Haley

Alex Haley

Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York, USA
Death 10 Feb 1992 (aged 70)
Seattle, King County, Washington, USA
Burial Henning, Lauderdale County, Tennessee, USA
Memorial ID 1796 · View Source
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Author. Born Alexander Murray Palmer Haley, he is best remembered for his books, "Roots," which was turned into a television mini-series, which inspired a generation of black Americans to search for their genealogical ancestors. In 1977, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his book. Born the oldest of three sons in Ithaca, New York, his family moved back to their hometown of Henning, Tennessee, where young Alex was raised. After attending college for two years, he enlisted into the United States Coast Guard in 1939, as a Mess Steward, and retired twenty years later, in 1959, as a Journalist Chief Petty Officer. Upon his retirement he began a second career as a writer, doing interviews for Reader's Digest. Later, he became associated with Playboy Magazine, where he inaugurated the magazine's feature "Playboy Interviews." Among his early interviews were Malcolm X and George Lincoln Rockwell, both of whom were later assassinated. This led to his first book, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley" (1965). The stories he heard from his grandparents led him to investigate his maternal ancestry, which in turn, led him to discover his heritage in Juffure, in Gambia, West Africa, where he was able to link his oral history to seven previous generations of Mandinka tribal history. This resulted in his 1976 book, "Roots: Saga of an American Family." In 1977, ABC Television produced it as a 12-hour miniseries, which broke record numbers as over 130 million viewers tuned in. The book sold more than 1.6 million copies in its first six months, and was translated into more than 37 languages, to sell around the world. In 1979, ABC Television did a second miniseries, "Roots: The Next Generations," which continued the saga of the Haley family. In 1989, he was given an honorary degree from the Coast Guard Academy, the first person so honored. Later, the United States Coast Guard commissioned a cutter, the “USS Alex Haley” (WMEC-39), in his honor. He died in Seattle, Washington, of cardiac arrest following a heart attack.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1796
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alex Haley (11 Aug 1921–10 Feb 1992), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1796, citing Alex Haley's Boyhood Home Grounds, Henning, Lauderdale County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .