29 Facts About Alastair Cooke


Alastair Cooke was the father of author and folk singer John Byrne Cooke.

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Alastair Cooke was born Alfred Cooke in Salford, Lancashire, England, the son of Mary Elizabeth and Samuel Cooke.

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Alastair Cooke's father was a Methodist lay preacher and metalsmith by trade; his mother's family were of Irish Protestant origin.

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Alastair Cooke changed his name to Alistair when he was 22, in 1930.

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Alastair Cooke's first visit to the United States was in 1932 on a two-year Commonwealth Fund Fellowship, now Harkness Fellowship to Yale and Harvard, where his acting and music skills came to the fore with visits to Hollywood.

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Alastair Cooke saw a newspaper headline stating that Oliver Baldwin, the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin's son, had been sacked by the BBC as film critic.

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Alastair Cooke sent a telegram to the Director of Talks, asking if he would be considered for the post.

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Alastair Cooke was invited for an interview and took a Cunard liner back to Britain, arriving twenty-four hours late for his interview.

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Alastair Cooke suggested typing out a film review on the spot, and a few minutes later, he was offered the job.

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Alastair Cooke sat on a BBC Advisory Committee headed by George Bernard Shaw for correct pronunciation.

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Alastair Cooke made several talks on the topic each day to listeners in many parts of the United States.

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Alastair Cooke calculated that in ten days he spoke 400,000 words on the subject.

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Alastair Cooke replaced Oliver Baldwin as the BBC's film critic on 8 October 1934 and gave his first BBC broadcast: "I declare that I am a critic trying to interest a lot of people into seeing interesting films", he told his audience.

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Shortly after emigrating, Alastair Cooke suggested to the BBC the idea of doing the London Letter in reverse: a 15-minute talk for British listeners on life in America.

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In 1947, Alastair Cooke became a foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian newspaper, for which he wrote until 1972.

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In 1952, Alastair Cooke became the host of CBS's Omnibus, the first US commercial network television series devoted to the arts.

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Alastair Cooke chose the subject "The Jet Age and the Habits of Man".

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Alastair Cooke remained its host for 22 years, before retiring from the role in 1992.

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Alastair Cooke achieved his greatest popularity in the United States in this role, becoming the subject of many parodies, including "Alistair Cookie" in Sesame Street, and Alistair Quince, portrayed by Harvey Korman, who introduced many episodes in the early seasons of Mama's Family.

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On 2 March 2004, at the age of 95, following advice from his doctors, Alastair Cooke announced his retirement from Letter from America—after 58 years, the longest-running speech radio show in the world.

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Alastair Cooke died at midnight on 30 March 2004, at his home in New York City.

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Alastair Cooke had been ill with heart disease, but died of lung cancer, which had spread to his bones.

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Alastair Cooke was cremated, and his ashes were clandestinely scattered by his family in Central Park.

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The cancer from which Alastair Cooke was suffering had spread to his bones, making them unsuitable for grafts.

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In 1932 Alastair Cooke became engaged to Henrietta Riddle, the daughter of the English actor Henry Ainley and the Baroness von Hutten, but she broke off the engagement the following year while he was in America on a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship.

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Alastair Cooke met Ruth Emerson, a great-grandniece of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1933, and they married on 24 August 1934.

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Alistair Cooke divorced Ruth in 1944, and married Jane White Hawkes, a portrait painter and the widow of neurologist A Whitfield Hawkes, the son of Albert W Hawkes, on 30 April 1946.

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Alastair Cooke took up golf in his mid-fifties, developing a fascination with the game, despite never attaining an extraordinary level of skill.

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Album features Alastair Cooke playing jazz standards on piano with accompanying whistle and speaking about his life in America.

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