Earl Nightingale

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Earl Nightingale
Born (1921-03-12)March 12, 1921
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died March 28, 1989(1989-03-28) (aged 68)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1938 – 1946
Rank USMC-E4.svg Corporal

World War II

Other work Radio

Earl Nightingale (March 12, 1921 – March 28, 1989) was an American radio personality, writer, speaker, and author, dealing mostly on the subjects of human character development, motivation, excellence and meaningful existence; so named as the "Dean of Personal Development."[1] He was the voice in the early 1950s of Sky King, the hero of a radio adventure series, and was a WGN radio show host from 1950 to 1956.[2] Nightingale was the author of The Strangest Secret, which economist Terry Savage has called “…one of the great motivational books of all time“.[3]


Nightingale was born in Los Angeles in 1921. His father, Earl the 4th, abandoned his mother in 1933. After his father left, his mother moved the family to a tent in Tent City.

Diana Nightingale is the widow of Earl Nightingale.[4] Diana has continued the legacy of Earl's message and the key to success, “We Become What We Think About”.[5]

Military career[edit]

When Nightingale was seventeen he joined the United States Marines. He was on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor and was one of fifteen surviving Marines on board that day.[6] Before being mustered, Nightingale was an instructor at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Other than Pearl Harbor, it is unknown if Nightingale saw combat during World War 2.


After the war, Nightingale began work in the radio industry, which eventually led to work as a motivational speaker. In the fall of 1949, Nightingale was inspired while reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.[7] Quoting from the Earl Nightingale official website: "When he was 29, Earl's enlightenment had come to him as a bolt out of the blue while reading, Think and Grow Rich. It came when he realized that the six words he read were the answer to the question he had been looking for! That, 'we become what we think about'. He realized that he had been reading the same truth over and over again, from the New Testament...to the works of Emerson. 'We become what we think about.' 'As ye sow, so shall ye reap...'" [8][not in citation given (See discussion.)]

In 1956, he produced a spoken word record, The Strangest Secret, which sold over a million copies, making it the first spoken-word recording to achieve Gold Record status.[9][10] In 1960, a condensed audio version of Think and Grow Rich was narrated by Nightingale. It was titled, Think and Grow Rich: The Essence Of The Immortal Book By Napoleon Hill, Narrated by Earl Nightingale, and produced by Success Motivation Institute. Also in 1960, he co-founded the Nightingale-Conant corporation with Lloyd Conant. In 1987, Nightingale-Conant published another very successful audio book: Lead The Field.[11]

Nightingale’s radio program, Our Changing World, became the most highly syndicated radio program ever, and was heard across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa, the Bahamas, 23 additional overseas countries, as well as the Armed Forces Network.

After his retirement, Nightingale and his wife, Diana, formed Keys Publishing.

Just prior to his death in 1989, Nightingale created a new format for a book called The Winner’s Notebook. It included his text, his illustrations, and incorporated space for a private journal.


He won a gold record for the LP The Strangest Secret

In 1976, he won the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International [12] He was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame.[13]

In 1985, Nightingale was inducted into The Association of National Broadcasters National Radio Hall of Fame.[14]

In the mid-eighties, Nightingale wrote his first book, Earl Nightingale’s Greatest Discovery for which he received the Napoleon Hill Gold Medal for Literary Excellency.


During his lifetime, Nightingale wrote and recorded over 7,000 radio programs, 250 audio programs as well as television programs and videos.[15]

The Belgian Pop Band Felix Pallas used some quotations of The Strangest Secret in their song 'Song for Melody', which appeared on their first EP 2S4T.[16]


  1. ^ The Nassau Guardian - Meteorological Myths – Editorial Colume – 30 June – 2003. [1]
  2. ^ Chicago Tribune – CHICAGOLAND - Kenan Heise - Mar 29, 1989
  3. ^ Chicago Sun Times - THE SAVAGE TRUTH | Economic fears are a big part of country's problems – Terry Savage – March 9, 2009. [2]
  4. ^ "Earl Nightingale's Greatest Discovery". Success Magazine. March 30, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ Daniel. "Drug and Alcohol Rehab: Diana Nightingale Conversation". Happy Recovery. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  6. ^ Lanka Newspaper – We Became What We Think About – Monday, 2 April 2007
  7. ^ Think and Grow Rich, The Essence Of The Immortal Book By Napoleon Hill, Narrated by Earl Nightingale, Success Motivation Institute, 1960
  8. ^ Earl Nightingale Website/About
  9. ^ Mark Victor Hansen: Listen to Earle Nightingale and The Strangest Secret
  10. ^ PR - Bob Proctor from The Secret shares His Insights on Learning, Creating Prosperity & The Law of Attraction - Allison Kugel - April 02, 2007 [3]
  11. ^ Chicago Tribune - NORTH SPORTS FINAL, C Edition - Kenan Heise. - Mar 29, 1989 - [4]
  12. ^ http://www.toastmasters.org/Members/Convention/2010Events/GoldenGavelRecipients.aspx
  13. ^ "CPAE List". CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame. National Spekers Association. 
  14. ^ Lexington Herald Leader-"RADIO'S NIGHTINGALE TO LECTURE" - D1 LIFESTYLE = April 24, 1986 [5]
  15. ^ Secrets Of A Superstar Speaker - Lilly Walters - McGraw-Hill - ISBN 0-07-134707-0 / 9780071347075 - [6]
  16. ^ Song For Melody - 2S4T by Felix Pallas

External links[edit]