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 Bennett Alfred Cerf

Bennett Alfred Cerf

Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 27 Aug 1971 (aged 73)
Mount Kisco, Westchester County, New York, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Ashes scattered at his Mount Kisco, New York Home
Memorial ID 2627 · View Source
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Publisher, Television Personality. Most Americans are familiar with him as a guest panelist on the television game show, "What's My Line?" He was co-founder of the publishing company, Random House. A collector of jokes and witticisms, he was noted for his wit and pithy sayings, as exampled in his quotes "The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed," and "For me, a hearty belly laugh is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world." Born Bennett Alfred Cerf in New York City, he was raised in that city, and received his BA Degree from Columbia University in 1919, and the following year, a degree in Journalism. Upon graduating, he worked briefly as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, then for a Wall Street brokerage firm, and several years later, becoming vice president of Boni and Liveright Publishing Company. In 1925, Cerf and his friend Donald Klopfer brought the rights to Boni and Liveright and went into business for themselves. Deciding to publish a few books at random, they decided to name the new company Random House, using as its logo a small house drawn by Cerf's friend Rockwell Kent. He was a man of boundless energy and enthusiasm, he soon became a major figure in American publishing for more than four decades. The consummate gentleman, Cerf's best talent came from his ability to build and maintain a friendship with such writers as William Faulkner, James Joyce, John O'Hara, Eugene O'Neill, William Faulkner, James Michener, Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), and other great writers. Typical of his ability to work with people, he became a good friend of Ayn Rand, publishing her book "Atlas Shrugged," even though he strongly disagreed with her personal philosophy. In 1934, Cerf won a landmark court case against government censorship, and published James Joyce's "Ulysses." In 1936, he married actress Sylvia Sidney, but divorced her seven months later. Four years later, on September 17, 1940, he married former child star Phyllis Fraser, a cousin of actress Ginger Rogers; they would have two sons: Christopher and Jonathan. In 1951, Cerf joined the celebrity panel on the weekly television game show "What's My Line?" continuing until the show's end in 1967, and appeared on the September 25, 1961 episode of the competing television game show "I've Got a Secret" as its mystery guest. Cerf was noted for his urbane and folksy humor, and has written and published a number of books, many containing his wit. His autobiography "At Random" was published in 2002.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2627
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bennett Alfred Cerf (25 May 1898–27 Aug 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2627, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Ashes scattered at his Mount Kisco, New York Home.