CLIFTON FADIMAN Biography - Writers


Biography » writers » clifton fadiman


Name: Clifton Fadiman                                                                       
Born: May 15, 1904                                                                         
Died: June 20, 1999                                                                         
Clifton Fadiman (May 15, 1904-June 20, 1999) was an American intellectual,                 
author, radio and television personality.                                                   
Fadiman grew up in Brooklyn and was a nephew of the child prodigy William James             
Sidis. A graduate of Columbia University, he worked for Simon & Schuster for               
ten years, ending as its chief editor. He spent another ten years (1933-1943) in           
charge of The New Yorker's book review section and in 1944 became a judge for               
the Book of the Month Club. His witticisms and sayings were frequently printed             
in newspapers and magazines. "When you reread a classic, you do not see more in             
the book than you did before, you see more in you than there was before", was               
one of the better known. Of Stendhal, Fadiman wrote, "He has no grace, little               
charm, less humor... [and] is not really a good storyteller..."                             
Fadiman was a prime example of the "witty intellectual" type popular on                     
television in the 1950s. John Charles Daly, Bennett Cerf, George S. Kaufman,               
Alexander King and a number of other television celebrities personified, along             
with Fadiman, the highly-educated, elegant, patrician raconteurs and pundits               
regarded by TV executives of that era as appealing to the upper-class owners of             
expensive early TV sets.                                                                   
Fadiman was already well known from radio where, from May 1938 until June 1948,             
he hosted its most popular quiz show, Information Please!, which he briefly                 
revived for CBS-TV in 1952 as a thirteen-week summer replacement for the musical           
variety program The Fred Waring Show. During that June-September period, devoted           
fans of the departed radio program could finally not only hear, but also see               
Information Please! longtime panelists Franklin P. Adams and John Kieran who,               
like Fadiman himself, were literary figures and intellectuals. With the advent             
of TV, Fadiman gained in popularity, quickly establishing himself as an all-purpose,       
highly knowledgeable guest and host. At ease in front of the TV camera and                 
experienced from his years in radio, he frequently appeared on talk shows and               
hosted a number of upscale quiz programs.