Bennett Cerf

Publisher and Author
Born May 28, 1898

Bennett Alfred Cerf was an American publisher, one of the founders of American publishing firm Random House. Cerf was also known for his own compilations of jokes and puns, for regular personal appearances lecturing across the United States, and for his television appearances in the panel game show What's My Line?… Read More

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1898 Birth Born on May 25, 1898.


1925 27 Years Old In 1925, Cerf and Donald S. Klopfer formed a partnership to purchase the rights to the Modern Library from Boni & Liveright, and they went into business for themselves. They increased the popularity of the series and, in 1927, they began publishing general trade books which they had selected "at random." … Read More


1930 32 Years Old …  The office, therefore, decided to take action against the work under the provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930, which allowed a district attorney to bring action. … Read More
1933 35 Years Old In 1933, Cerf won United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, a landmark court case against government censorship, and thereafter he published James Joyce's unabridged Ulysses for the first time in the United States. (One chapter had been published in Margaret Anderson's and Jane Heap's The Little Review, a Chicago-based literary magazine, which had led to its being found "a work of obscenity.") In 1933, Random House had the rights to publish the book in the United States, and they arranged for a test case to challenge the implicit ban so as to publish the work without fear of prosecution.
1935 37 Years Old Cerf married actress Sylvia Sidney on October 1, 1935; they divorced seven months later on April 9, 1936.


1940 42 Years Old He married Hollywood actress Phyllis Fraser, a cousin of Ginger Rogers, on September 17, 1940. … Read More


1951 53 Years Old 1 More Event
Prior to 1951, Cerf was an occasional panelist on the NBC game show Who Said That?, in which celebrities try to determine the speaker of quotations taken from recent news reports.


1962 64 Years Old …  Perelman's 1962 play, The Beauty Part, features the caricature Harry Hubris, who was based on Cerf and played on Broadway by Bert Lahr.
1964 66 Years Old He was similarly portrayed as publisher "Bennett Blake" on The Patty Duke Show in the 1964 episode "Auld Lang Syne". … Read More
1967 69 Years Old Cerf was interviewed in 1967 and 1968 by Robin Hawkins, a freelancer working for the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University.
1971 73 Years Old Cerf died from natural causes in Mount Kisco, New York, on August 27, 1971, aged 73, survived by his wife and sons. … Read More
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