AKA Jean Parker Shepherd, Jr.
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Location of death: Sanibel Island, FL
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Radio Personality, Author
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: A Christmas Story
Military service: US Army Signal Corps (1942-44)
Several of Jean Shepherd's short stories, based on his childhood, were woven together to make the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. The book inspired the delightful 1983 holiday film, A Christmas Story, "a tribute to the original, traditional, one-hundred-percent, red-blooded, two-fisted, all-American Christmas."
While still in high school, Shepherd broke into radio with a weekly sportscast on a local station, and as a young man he worked as a radio disc jockey in Cincinnati and later Philadelphia. He had little early success, because his employers wanted him to play music and ads, while Shepherd preferred to talk, but he found his niche after coming to New York City's WOR radio in 1954. For more than two decades he regaled listeners with a show that seemed different every night --sometimes telling folksy stories, other nights performing elaborate stunts or pranks, perhaps delivering an extended lecture on Bolivia's exports, asking listeners to shout nonsensical phrases from their windows, or simply taking calls. In one of his first famous pranks, he asked listeners to visit local book stores and ask for I, Libertine by Frederick R. Ewing, when neither the book nor author existed. Shepherd later collaborated with science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon to actually write that book.
Shepherd was popular in the New York listening area, where media critic Marshall McLuhan called him "the first radio novelist", and Steve Allen recommended Shepherd as his replacement on The Tonight Show (though NBC went with Jack Paar instead). He was the inspiration for the DJ character in Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road, and helped John Cassavetes secure funding for his landmark 1959 independent film Shadows. Bill Griffith, who grew up to draw "Zippy the Pinhead", has said he would lie awake nights listening to Shepherd spinning yarns on his radio.
Father: Jean Parker Shepherd (dairy worker, b. 1899, d. 1986)
Mother: Ann Hetrick Shepherd (b. 1899, m. 1920, div. 1957, d. 1977)
Wife: Joan Laverne Warner (m. 9-Sep-1950, two children)
Son: Randall Shepherd (film editor, b. 1951)
Daughter: Adrian Shepherd (b. 16-Dec-1957)
Wife: Lois Nettleton (actress, b. 6-Aug-1927, m. 3-Dec-1960, div. 1967, d. 18-Jan-2008)
Wife: Leigh Brown (radio producer, b. 1-May-1939, m. 2-Mar-1977 until her death, 16-Jul-1998)
High School: Hammond High School, Hammond, IN (1939)
Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame
Radio Hall of Fame 2005
Mark Twain American Humor Award 1976
Irish Ancestry (paternal)
English Ancestry (paternal)
German Ancestry (maternal)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
My Summer Story (23-Sep-1994) [VOICE]
Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss (6-Aug-1988)
A Christmas Story (18-Nov-1983) [VOICE]
New Faces of 1952 (19-Feb-1954)
Author of books:
I, Libertine (1956, pseudonym Frederick R. Ewing, with Theodore Sturgeon)
In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash (1966)
The Ferrari in the Bedroom (1972)
A Fistful of Fig Newtons (1981)
Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, and Other Disasters (1982)
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