Joseph Nathan Kane
- Category : Writers-Fiction
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 4
American research historian and journalist, self-syndicated by 1922 and the author of 52 books. His most popular book, "Famous First Facts," 1933, now in its fifth edition, is a compilation of over 9,000 first American happenings, discovers and inventions, which has become a staple in reference collections. He is recognized as a fact collector extraordinaire. He hosted his own radio show, "Famous First Facts," from August 1938 to July 1939 and wrote questions and answers for many of the popular radio quiz shows of the 1930s and 1940s. A centenarian, he celebrated his 100th birthday in 1999.
Joseph Nathan Kane was the oldest of the three children of Albert Norman Kane and Hulda (Ascheim) Kane. His hobbies included collecting stamps and foreign currency. In school, his special interest was world geography. He attended Public School 10, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. At Townsend Harris High School, one of the elite New York City public secondary schools, Kane was editor of the Academic Herald, conducting interviews of famous figures. From 1917 to 1920 at Columbia University, Kane struck out on his own, taking classes in theatre, journalism and foreign languages, including French, German and Spanish, while often studying material outside the course curricula. He enlisted in the army but contracted (and nearly died from) influenza during the epidemic of 1918.
After the war, his knowledge of world geography and foreign languages enabled him to gain the position of manger of the export department at two companies in succession. He began writing monthly articles on export matters for one trade journal and soon syndicated them to other journals. During the following twenty years he syndicated hundreds of articles to more than 20 publications.
In the ten years between 1922 and 1932, Kane spent 11 out of 12 months of each year traveling around the U.S. as a free-lance, self-syndicated journalist. He visited every state and most of the cities in each state, sometimes by air. An aviation aficionado, he met many pilots and wrote the column, "The Back Seat Driver" for Aeronautical Industry and Air Transportation.
Kane was a one-man research organization, doggedly gathering information from his travels to document his "first" facts beyond dispute. H. W. Wilson published Kane’s "Facts About the Presidents" in 1959. He authored many other books, and his expertise has been utilized by television news departments, the Congress, the White House, and other governmental agencies.
Kane is five feet eight inches tall, white-haired and of a wiry build. He is a self-professed workaholic. A childless widower, in the ‘90s he moved in with his sister, Ann Madier, in her West Palm Beach, Florida condo.
In October 1995 he was honored at the Mary Pickford Theater Library for his gift of original 78 r.p.m. recordings of his radio show, "Famous First Facts." In January 1999 he celebrated his 100th birthday. Although confined to a wheelchair with Parkinson's disease and able to speak only in a whisper, Kane still showed flashes of his keen wit.
He died on 22 September 2002 in West Palm Beach, FL, age 103.