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Charles Dee Sharp

Charles Dee Sharp was born in 1928, the son of an Indiana farmer. Towards the end of of World War II, his father's health failing, the family moved to Arizona where Sharp finished his senior year of high school. Determined 

not to go to college, he found a job as copy boy on Anna Roosevelt Boettiger's The Arizona Times. A year or more later, though gaining some bylines as a cub reporter but made aware that he had no world view and was woefully uneducated, he enrolled at the University of Arizona. His freshman year disillusioning, he hitch-hiked to Madison, Wisconsin where, studying on his own, he took advantage of the University of Wisconsin's facilities without actually enrolling. He was on a student bicycle tour in Europe when the Korean broke out. During his two-year army tour, deciding he wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, he taught himself the rudiments by shooting across the Rio Grande from Fort Bliss, Texas, in

Juarez, Mexico, the Sunday afternoon bullfights. Discharged from the army

and hoping to make a documentary of the Mississippi River, he spent the summer, sleeping in his car, shooting the mythic river from its source to the Gulf of Mexico, repeating the experience at the invitation of a generous towboat captain. While researching the river's history in Chicago, he found a job with CBS-TV News, eventually becoming a producer and later Chicago Bureau Chief. Four years on, he quit to form his own film company, shooting films in the Soviet Union, the missionary journeys of St. Paul (Today in the Path of Paul), the biblical exodus (Bring Forth My People, distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox-TV), University of Chicago digs (The Egyptologists, narrated by Charlton Heston), The Kibbutz (w/Bruno Bettelheim), The Cooperativa de San Andres (for the Peace Corps). For fifteen years Sharp was associate professor at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology. Sidelined by multiple sclerosis, he turned to writing, publishing The Mississippi River in 1953, and The Wonder of American toys, 1920-1950. He has written four (unpublished) books: The Great River, a novel, and three memoirs, Anna and Me; Retracing the Journeys of Paul Across the Roman Empire in 1958; Frankfort, Indiana—Who Killed Ed Freehand? He has three themed (unpublished) books of photography: Searching For My Zen; I, Sisyphus, on Chestnut Street; Waiting. He has a daughter, and two adult grandchildren. His second wife of 57 years, suffering a major physical/mental stroke, is in a care facility and he lives alone.

Sharp is presently assembling and curating for permanent museum exhibit a definitive overview of the extraordinary toys produced in America in the first half of the twentieth century, artful, sculptural representations of the existing world that have had an enduring, only recently understood, effect on the children who played with them—toys, he says (history moving on), the likes of which will never be seen again.