First Wives Club

We have a regular patron who wants to know the first wives of famous actors, singers, and lately her daily inquiries have entered the realm of presidents, generals and martyrs. She doesn't want to know the names of any subsequent wives, but always the first.

Most of the time I don't know who she's talking about - the actors and singers are from an era that I am not particularly familiar with - and she doesn't seem to know that I have to look the information up. I do not have this information filed away in my memory. I always site my source with her, and tell her it will take a moment for me to find the information for her, but I sense her frustration when it takes more than one second to look it up. Most of the time, IMDB (which includes spousal information in the minibiography section) and Wikipedia (which often contains personal information for people) are the best first stops for this particular patron, but sometimes we need to look elsewhere for the first wives.

and Infoplease Biography are usually a good first stops for quick basic information about people, but neither provide links to different aspects of their biographical information, and neither include marriage information consistently. Who2 also provides only quick basic information, but the stats are easier to find and their Famous People by Category list includes some unusual categories - including accident victims, attempted assassins, clergywomen and groupies. As our patron strays more and more from actors, we may have to consult specialized biographical dictionaries. Excellent lists can be found at the IPL and ALA websites.

Anyway. A scary thing happened the other day - our patron called asking about the first wife of an actor I had never heard of. I told her the name of the woman, and later that night, that woman was referenced in the novel I was reading. And I knew was able to say I knew who she was.

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