ALISTAIR COOKE Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name:Alistair Cooke                                                                   
Birth name: Alfred Cooke                                                               
Born: 20 November 1908 Salford, Lancashire, England                                   
Died: 30 March 2004 New York City, U.S.                                               
Alistair Cooke KBE (November 20, 1908 - March 30, 2004) was a British-American         
journalist and broadcaster.                                                           
Born in England, he became a naturalized American citizen, and lived in New York       
City with his family for most of his adult life.                                       
Born in Salford, in Lancashire, England, to a Methodist father and an Irish           
mother, as Alfred Cooke, he legally added the name "Alistair" at age 22. He was       
educated at Blackpool Grammar School and was awarded a scholarship to study at         
Jesus College, Cambridge, where he gained an honours degree (2:1) in English. He       
was heavily involved in the arts of the college, becoming the editor of The           
Granta, the student magazine, and setting up the Mummers, the first co-sex             
theatre group, from which he notably rejected a young James Mason, telling him         
to stick to architecture.                                                             
While still in England, Cooke became engaged to Henrietta Riddle, the daughter         
of actor Henry Ainley and the novelist Bettina Riddle, also known as the               
Baroness von Hutten; but as a graduate student, he went to Yale University and         
Harvard University in the United States for two years on a Commonwealth Fund           
Fellowship, and his fiancĂ©e was to desert him while he was away on this trip, in     
January 1933. However at the end of this year he met Ruth Emerson, who was the         
grand-niece of Ralph Waldo Emerson. They were married the next year. Originally       
Charlie Chaplin, whom Cooke had befriended in Hollywood, was supposed to be his       
best man, but the mercurial actor vanished at the last minute. Having divorced         
Ruth (by whom he had a son, John) in 1944, he married Jane Hawkes White, a             
portrait painter and daughter of a New Jersey senator, thereby acquiring two           
stepchildren (Holly and Stephen) and subsequently a new daughter (Susie).