Cerf, Bennett Alfred

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CERF, BENNETT ALFRED (1898–1971), U.S. publisher, editor, and humorous writer. Cerf began his career as a writer for the financial section of the New York Tribune. His first wife was the actress Sylvia Sydney. In 1923 he became vice president of the publishing house of Boni and Liveright. Four years later, with Elmer *Adler and Donald Klopfer, he founded the Random House Publishing Company to distribute the limited editions of the Nonesuch Press. This company soon developed into one of the largest publishing houses in the United States. Random House was bought in 1967 by rca and Cerf became vice president of Random House Operations. Cerf was a popular panelist on the radio and tv program "What's My Line?" which ran for some 15 years. He edited a number of anthologies among which were Great German Short Novels and Stories (1933), Bedside Book of Famous American Stories (in collaboration with Angus Burres (1939)), Bedside Book of Famous British Stories (1940), and collections of anecdotes, including Encyclopedia of Modern American Humor (1954).