35 Facts About Alex Haley


Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an American writer and the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family.


Alex Haley was working on a second family history novel at his death.


Alex Haley had requested that David Stevens, a screenwriter, complete it; the book was published as Queen: The Story of an American Family.


Alex Haley was born in Ithaca, New York, on August 11,1921, and was the eldest of three brothers and a half-sister.


Alex Haley lived with his family in Henning, Tennessee, before returning to Ithaca with his family when he was five years old.


The younger Alex Haley always spoke proudly of his father and the obstacles of racism he had overcome.


Alex Haley's father felt that Alex needed discipline and growth, and convinced him to enlist in the military.


On May 24,1939, Alex Haley began what became a 20-year career in the United States Coast Guard.


Alex Haley traced back his maternal ancestry, through genealogical research, to Jufureh, in The Gambia.


Alex Haley said that the greatest enemy he and his crew faced during their long voyages was not the Japanese forces but rather boredom.


Alex Haley was the first chief journalist in the Coast Guard, the rating having been expressly created for him in recognition of his literary ability.


Alex Haley eventually became a senior editor for Reader's Digest magazine.


Alex Haley wrote an article for the magazine about his brother George's struggles to succeed as one of the first black students at a Southern law school.


Alex Haley elicited candid comments from jazz musician Miles Davis about his thoughts and feelings on racism in an interview he had started, but not finished, for Show Business Illustrated, another magazine created by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner that folded in early 1962.


Alex Haley completed the interview and it appeared in Playboy's September 1962 issue.


Alex Haley agreed to meet with Haley only after gaining assurance from the writer that he was not Jewish.


Alex Haley remained professional during the interview, although Rockwell kept a handgun on the table throughout it.


In 1976, Alex Haley published Roots: The Saga of an American Family, a novel based on his family's history, going back to slavery days.


Alex Haley claimed to be a seventh-generation descendant of Kunta Kinte, and his work on the novel involved twelve years of research, intercontinental travel, and writing.


Alex Haley went to the village of Juffure, where Kunta Kinte grew up and listened to a tribal historian tell the story of Kinte's capture.


Alex Haley traced the records of the ship, The Lord Ligonier, which he said carried his ancestor to the Americas.


Alex Haley stated that the most emotional moment of his life occurred on September 29,1967, when he stood at the site in Annapolis, Maryland, where his ancestor had arrived from Africa in chains exactly 200 years before.


Alex Haley won a special Pulitzer Prize for the work in 1977.


Alex Haley was portrayed at different ages by Kristoff St John, The Jeffersons actor Damon Evans, and Tony Award winner James Earl Jones.


Alex Haley appeared briefly, portrayed by Tony Award winner Laurence Fishburne.


Alex Haley was briefly a "writer in residence" at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he began writing Roots.


Alex Haley enjoyed spending time at a local bistro called the Savoy in nearby Rome, where he would sometimes pass the time listening to the piano player.


Alex Haley admitted that some passages from The African had made it into Roots, settling the case out of court in 1978 and paying Courlander $650,000.


In 2023, Jonathan Eig suggested that Alex Haley had made a number of fabrications in his 1965 Playboy interview with Martin Luther King Jr.


Early in the 1980s, Alex Haley worked with the Walt Disney Company to develop an Equatorial Africa pavilion for its Epcot Center theme park.


Alex Haley appeared on a CBS broadcast of Epcot Center's opening day celebration, discussing the plans and exhibiting concept art with host Danny Kaye.


Late in the 1970s, Alex Haley had begun working on a second historical novel based on another branch of his family, traced through his grandmother Queen; she was the daughter of a black slave woman and her white master.


Alex Haley did not finish the novel before dying in Seattle, Washington, of a heart attack on February 10,1992.


Alex Haley was buried beside his childhood home in Henning, Tennessee.


The farm is a few miles from the Museum of Appalachia, and Alex Haley lived there until his death.