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Ken Zurski’s fourth book recalls ‘unremembered’ entertainment stars

Ken Zurski’s new book, “Unremembered 2,” continues the author’s fascination with once-famous individuals who no longer find themselves in the limelight.

This collection focuses on “artists, actors, actresses and influencers,” he said.

It's the fourth book for Zurski, the Morton resident whose voice you probably recognize from radio. He’s been offering up traffic reports on five Peoria radio stations since 2003.

“I worked a split shift for 12 years,” said Zurski, who now only works a 5-9 a.m. weekday shift, leaving more time for research and writing.

Before coming to central Illinois almost 20 years ago, Zurski handled traffic reports on radio in Chicago, where there’s not just more trouble on the road but sometimes in the air: Zurski experienced an emergency landing in 1999 when the engine failed in the traffic spotter plane he was aboard.

While Zurski, working for WBBM radio in Chicago at the time, and another reporter walked away from the accident, the plane was totaled. Now reporting from safer climes in central Illinois, Zurski has more time to pursue his interest in history.

His previous books include “The Wreck of the Columbia” (2012), “Peoria Stories” (2014) and “Unremembered,” the first volume of once-famous people now all but forgotten by time that was published in 2018.

In "Unremembered 2," Zurski offers portraits of a wide variety of people who performed in the late 19th and early 20th century. Among the characters encountered: Felix Nadar, the Frenchman who took flight in a balloon to pursue aerial photography; Isadora Duncan, the dancer who was described by a New York newspaper as "some will call her blessed, others will call her names," and Sada Yacco whose Japanese troupe performed 369 performances in 123 days at the 1900 Paris Exhibition.

Zurski said he’s already at work on “Unremembered 3,” another volume of stories he hopes will blow the dust off past accomplishment, allowing a new generation to take note.

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Steve Tarter retired from the Peoria Journal Star in 2019 after spending 20 years at the paper as both reporter and business editor.