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The rise of the Annenbergs. The great Annenberg publishing dynasty that controlled the Daily Racing Form, The Philadelphia Inquirer and TV Guide for decades produced the fortune that allowed Walter Annenberg to establish and endow the prestigious M. L. Annenberg Schools of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California in honor of his disgraced father, a major player in Capone’s underworld.
by Allan May
M. L. Annenberg and the Growth of the Race Wire
The Annenbergs came to Chicago via a remote, desolate village in East Prussia where Moses Louis Annenberg was born in 1878 during a period of brutal persecution of the Jews. On Christmas Eve 1881, anti-Semitic feelings reached a height in nearby Warsaw when several hundred Jews were beaten to death by Christian mobs claiming revenge on "Christ killers." Moses’ father, Tobias, had seen enough. In 1882, he took the small savings he had and traveled alone to America with plans to send for his wife and eight children later. He settled in Chicago and rented a storefront building on State Street where he opened a small grocery store. By 1885, Tobias Annenberg was able to send for his family.
The Annenberg grocery store was located in the "Patch." At the time it was a tough, predominantly Irish neighborhood, which would spawn future race wire service owners James M. Ragen and Arthur B. "Mickey" McBride. Although Tobias tried to raise his children in the Orthodox Jewish religion with its traditional values, the boys – Jacob, Max and Moe -- would have no part of it. Moe came to "despise all religions as traps to keep poor people docile," according to John Cooney, in his book The Annenberg’s. At an early age, he developed a love of gambling from the card and dice games played on the sidewalks of the neighborhood. He would remain a gambler all his life.
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