Name at birth: Sheldon Alan Silverstein
Shel Silverstein is best known for his quirky and irreverent children's books and poetry, including the modern classics The Giving Tree (1964), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974) and A Light in the Attic (1981). Silverstein got his start when Hugh Hefner hired him in the 1950s to be the resident poet/cartoonist for Playboy magazine. While contributing poems, cartoons and travelogues to the magazine, Silverstein also wrote songs, among them the 1972 hit "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show and "A Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash. He was also nominated in 1991 for an Oscar, for the song "I'm Checkin' Out," performed by Meryl Streep in the movie Postcards From the Edge (1990, written by Carrie Fisher). His other books include A Giraffe and a Half (1964), The Missing Piece (1976) and Falling Up (1996).