I was born in the early 1950s in New Jersey, the son of a television director and a stage actress, into a family that valued hard work and public service.
My father, Robert ("Bob"), was born in Illinois. He attended Washington University and later graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He was a U.S. Army captain with the Anti Aircraft Branch and served 3-1/2 years in the Pacific during World War II.
My mother, Frances ("Fran"), was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from the Louisville Collegiate School, Vassar College, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She was also active during World War II in the American Theatre Wing War Service. Her stage name was Frances Fielding.
My father worked as a program producer/director for the National Broadcasting Company in New York City, starting in the late 1940s. His credits include The Howdy Doody Show, The Pinky Lee Show, Ruff and Ready, The Shari Lewis Show, Jeopardy! and General Electric College Bowl. He also directed numerous special broadcasts, including The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and national election coverage for NBC. He filled-in occasionally as the director of The Today Show and The Tonight Show. Dad was directing live coverage in 1963 when Lee Harvey Oswald was fatally shot by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby in full view of the broadcasting television cameras, two days after the assasination of President John F. Kennedy. Dad worked for NBC for 20 years.
My father's family: A simple but industrious life.
My father's family is descendant from Johan and Anna Jonsson, who lived in Hult, Sweden, in the early 1700s.
My great-grandfather, Lorenz Otto Hultgren, was born in Nodjehult, Sweden, in 1841. He ran away from home after his mother's death and worked for a wealthy family taking care of their horses until he was 15 years old. He then moved to Stockholm and learned the cabinet maker trade by age 17. He traveled to Germany, Russia and finally America where he lived in Chicago and worked for such firms as John A. Colby & Sons, Kimball Piano Co., A.H. Andrews Co., and the Brunswick-Balke-Collander Co.
In Chicago he married my great-grandmother, Alma Matilda Nelson, who was born in Norkoping, Sweden, to poor parents. After her father left for American she and her mother made a meager living by selling home-made sausage in the open market. After her mother's death she went to live with her father in Chicago.
My grandfather, Arthur Carl Fredrick Hultgren (known as A.C.), did not have a high school or college education. After starting work as a newsboy in Chicago he went to work for the railroad and retired as Traffic Manager for the Shell Petroleum Company in New York City.
My grandmother, Eloise Madeline Wersen Hultgren, was a accomplished artist in the oil painting medium. She was always painting, either outside on trips or at home (and their house always smelled of oil paint, one of my favorite childhood memories of visiting my grandparents' house). She would sell her paintings on sidewalk sales, give them to family and friends, and exchange them for lodging at resorts in the Adirondacks and New England.
My mother's family: Active in political and judicial life
My mother came from a family that for over two centuries had taken a very active role in the civic, political, and judicial life of Louisville and Kentucky.
My grandfather, Shackelford Miller Jr., was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. He was later appointed by President Harry S. Truman as Judge of the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where he served for 19 years, including two years as Chief Judge. He graduated valedictorian of the Louisville Male High School Class of 1910, Princeton University, and the Harvard Law School. He served in the U.S. Army as a captain in the 335th Field Artillery Regiment in France during World War I. Following the death of my grandmother in 1931 he became active in Democratic affairs and served as Chairman of the Democratic City and County Executive Committee from 1932 to 1939. He was Chairman of the Democratic State Campaign Committee in 1938 and directed the successful primary campaign of Senator Alben W. Barkley. He was active in the affairs of the Louisville Bar Association of which he was president in 1932 and of the Kentucky State Bar Association which honored him with the Outstanding Member of the Year Award in 1961. He was also active in the affairs of the American Bar Association and, as a member of a special ABA committee, he worked for three years helping draft the American Bar Association's code of disciplinary procedures. For a number of years he served as a member of the association's standing committee on professional ethics. He was a member of the board of directors of the American Judiciary Society and was appointed by United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1960 to serve on a special committee to recommend improvement of the rules of practice for federal courts.
My great-grandfather, Shackelford Miller Sr., was born in Greene County, Missouri. He graduated from Louisville Male High School and earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Louisville and his Doctor of Laws from Kentucky State University. He operated a quiet but successful practice for 17 years, having little to do with politics, until he was chosen as a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket. He was elected chancellor of the Jefferson Circuit Court for three terms and then was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals (which became the Supreme Court of Kentucky in 1975), serving from 1911 - 1919 (and as Chief Justice from 1915 - 1917). He was a trustee of the Polytechnic Society of Kentucky (now the Louisville public library). He was one of the founders of the Jefferson School of Law and served as its first dean for eight years. He was an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Louisville, a trustee of the Louisville Presbyterian Orphanage, and a trustee of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Louisville,
My great-grandmother, Mary Floyd Welman, lived in Louisville through the age of 99 and was highly regarded for her many years of service in civic affairs and as a Democratic campaign volunteer and speech maker. In 1954, at the age of 91, she served as honory chairman of the Volunteers for Adlai Stevenson. By this time she was regarded affectionately throughout Kentucky as "the Grand Lady of the Democratic Party" and her endorsement was eagerly sought by politicians in virtually every major campaign.
One of my first memories of my great-grandmother is of her telling me about the night that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. She reportedly had a wonderful memory and had memorized a poem a day, starting in her 20s.
My great-uncle, Neville Miller, was also valedictorian of his class at Louisville Male High School and also earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Louisville with my grandfather and great-grandfather in the firm Miller and Miller and was elected president of the Kentucky Bar Association in 1924. However, he primarily taught law during this time and became the first dean of the University of Louisville School of Law in 1930. He was narrowly elected mayor of Louisville as a Democrat in 1933, ending 15 years of Republican dominance of the office, and led Louisville during the worst years of the Great Depression where he helped reorganize city finances for the changing times. Uncle Neville is best known as the "flood mayor" for his leadership during the Ohio River flood of 1937, the worst in the city's history, where he directed evacuations and relief efforts and made nationwide appeals for donations and volunteers over the radio. Due to his use of the radio during the flood crisis, he briefly attained some national celebrity and served as president of the National Association of Broadcasters, spearheading the radio industry's support of the war effort. He also served as director of the Louisville Water Company and on the boards of the Louisville Free Public Library, the Park Board and the Civil Service Board. Miller Avenue in Louisville is named in recognition of his service as mayor.
My great-great-grandfather, John Miller, married Barbara Anne Neville and into the Neville family in 1851. Ten generations before me lived William Neville, who was the first from his family to come to America. That family, originally from France, went to England with William the Conqueror. An old noble family, several Queens of England were from the Neville family, including Ann Neville, wife of Richard III. Ann's father, a powerful nobleman, was the Earle of Warwick and known as the Kingmaker. Other branches of my mother's family include Hugh Capet, King of France, and numerous Counts, Countesses, and Marqui.
My great-great-great grandfather, Col. Robert Miller, a native of King & Queen County, Virginia, crossed the Cumberland Gap in 1796 by foot and settled in Lower Pond, Kentucky (now known as Valley Station in the Louisville metropolitan area). His sister was married to the first governor of Virginia. The Miller family farm stood where the Tarrytowne subdicision now stands, south of Valley Station Road, west of Stonestreet Road, east of Deering Road, and north of Pond Creek. The old roadway to the farm is now Millers Lane and the family cemetery, which was behind the farm house, now is a lot in the Tarrytowne subdivision at 4603 Linger Court.
My great-great-great grandmother, Cassandra Moore, was given the 250 acre property by her father as a wedding present. Her father also gave his other daughter, Zerulah, an adjacent tract of land before her marriage to John Jones.
My great-great-great-great grandfather, Cassandra's father, was James Frances Moore, a captain of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regement during the Revolutionary War. In 1780 he was on the staff of Gen. George Rogers Clark, stationed at the Falls of the Ohio (now the city of Louisville). He filled many positions and offices in Jefferson County. As soon as Kentucky became independent of Virginia he was elected to the Legislature and in 1803 to the Senate, where he served continuously until his death upon the floor of the Senate in Frankfort in 1810. In 1809 he was Humphry Marshall's second when he fought his celebrated duel with future United States Senator and United States Secretary of State Henry Clay. He was one of the five commissioners named by the Virginia Assembly in "Clark's Grant" and served on that commission until his death. When he died he had 55,000 acres of land in the State of Kentucky and he controlled Kentucky's great salt wells. His brother, Col. Nicholas Ruxton Moore, was a Congressman from Baltimore. His sister and her husband, James Harrod Sr., fathered James Harrod who surveyed and laid out the first town in Kentucky, at Harrodsburg, and helped in the building of the fort at Louisville.
Also, on my mother's side of the family, Pocahontas, notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia (Pocahontas Matoaka Amonute Powhatan) was my 10th great grandmother. And President Abraham Lincoln was my third cousin five times removed.