Who Am I – 2014

January 2014

I was born in Brooklyn, became an undergrad in NYC and got my medical degree in Scotland of all places! I later opened a general medical practice in Paterson, which soon became a lung clinic. Still later, I began a 50 year affiliation with Mount Sinai Medical Center. My path in life was determined after I diagnosed the illnesses of some of my patients who were working in a nearby industrial plant. I began researching pleural mesothelioma, for which I became famous to many and notorious to my detractors.  I created a strong public awareness between the inhalation of asbestos particles and mesothelioma, a condition which leads to abnormally high rates of death and cancer. My detractors vilified me as a fanatic who exaggerated my findings for personal fame and fortune; however, I am now remembered as a pioneer in environmental and occupational medicine. My research led OSHA to enact additional safeguards for workers working with hazardous materials and today, thanks to my efforts and others who followed me, almost all products made with asbestos have been phased out. Who am I?

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February 2014

I was born in Passaic during a period of time that became known as the Great Depression. I was blessed with a talent for music and became pretty adept on a mandolin and a banjo. I joined a popular bluegrass group that jammed in Washington Square and performed in some of the best Greenwich Village clubs during the “folk revival” of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. We cut records as well. Would you believe a young Bob Dylan would warm up an audience for us because we were the headliners???!!!

Eventually, I gravitated to the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. and worked there as a curator and folklorist for almost three decades. I was instrumental in getting the Smithsonian to acquire Folkways Records with its impressive recording artists and vast folk tunes collection. I was also a founder of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which takes place on the National Mall in Washington every summer. Come down some time and enjoy the music! That’s me holding the mic in the picture below. Who Am I?

March 2014

Willie Singer, the late former athletic director at the Paterson ‘Y’ once praised me as “the best athlete to pass his way”. Some of my photos now show up in some of the Paterson ‘Y’ pictures right here at the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey location. In 1950 when I was 17 years old I was thrilled to be signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers to play baseball in some of their minor league affiliate teams, including the Valdosta (Georgia) Dodgers and the Newport News (VA) Dodgers. I was in top condition then. I stood 6’ tall, weighed 185 pounds and batted right-handed. One year with Valdosta I batted .265. My biggest thrill happened during an intra-squad practice game against our parent team, the National League Brooklyn Dodgers, when I got to see and meet some of my true baseball heroes, including the great Jackie Robinson. I made lifelong friends with Larry and Norm Sherry, who were probably the only Jewish sibling battery (pitcher and catcher) who got to play in “the bigs” together.   My playing days were interrupted by army service in Korea. After mustering out, I went back to play in the minors during that memorable ’55 season when Brooklyn won its only World Series. I then left the Dodgers and returned to Paterson to help run a family office furniture business. If you enjoyed Paterson sports, come see more sports pictures of Paterson athletes at our special sports exhibition at the Wayne YMCA. The opening reception will be held there on May 4th from 1:30-4:30. Refreshments will be served. The exhibit will run until early July.  Around this time of year, when spring training begins, the siren song of “Play,ball!” still rings in my ears. That’s me, number 23, below. Who am I?

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April 2014

Though I was born in Czarist Russia, I adapted to American ways pretty fast. I hustled newspapers as a lad in NYC and very briefly thought about a musical career as did my bro’. In the end we found that the two of us had a knack for business working as concessionaires. Together, we brought the ‘Cyclone’ to south Brooklyn. I guess we really got going when we crossed the Hudson opposite W.130th Street where we bought and operated an existing 40 acre enterprise. We featured lots of talent there, such as the big band sound of Harry James, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey brothers. Years later, Bruce Morrow, my cousin and yours, brought rock ‘n roll to our music pavilion. Freddie “Boom-Boom” Cannon made us so popular that they even knew about us on the west coast. I did pretty well for myself – I owned an advertising agency, movie theatres and developed real estate. I learned quickly how to promote our business by offering free parking, reduced admission fare offers that appeared on matchbooks, comic books etc.  I often let my security staff turn a blind eye when kids tried to sneak in to my place because I really loved kids even though I never had any of my own. I had an especially weak spot for orphans and brain injured children and tried to help them out whenever I could. Folks were just crazy about my salt water pool with its ocean-like waves. Yes indeed. Visitors could “swing all day and after dark” at my park. The shrieks of the crowds are stilled now. Just like what happened at Ebbets Field and at the Polo Grounds that vanished before me, apartment buildings now stand where so many memories were made.  That’s my ‘Cyclone’ below. There’s also a photo of me with a pretty blonde. Who am I?

May 2014

I was born in Bialystock (now Poland) which was then part of Imperial Russia. When I was 15 years old, my dad, who worked in the silk and manufacturing business, moved our family to Paterson, N.J., where I took a crash course in English and went to high school. I did odd jobs and won a scholarship to attend N.Y.U. and went on to complete medical school there. I trained at Bellevue and did research in preventative medicine in London. I became known as a pioneer researcher and earned a reputation as a virologist.

During WWII I served as a lieutenant colonel in the Medical Corps. I studied diseases that might affect U.S. troops and helped develop vaccines against dengue fever, sand-fly fever, and Japanese encephalitis. After the war I moved on to the University of Cincinnati where my efforts resulted in the development of a live virus vaccine that became the world’s main defense against infantile paralysis.  I proved that the deadly virus first invaded the digestive tract and later on the nerve tissues. My new vaccine could be administered in either a sugar cube or as a syrup, and it offered patients lifetime protection against the scourge of poliomyelitis without the need of subsequent booster shots.

I became an advisor to the U.S. and other governments on important health issues. In later years I was offered and accepted the post of president of the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. That’s me with the ‘stache below, and following are some of my sugar cubes. Who am I?

June 2014

There was some controversy about the location; however, according to the U.S. census of 1910 I was born in Bayonne, N.J., one of 11 children born to Russian-Jewish parents. I got an early start in vaudeville long before all of you baby boomers were even gleams in your fathers’ eyes. My orchestra recorded throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. I famously co-composed a jazz standard that I believe all of you know even in the year 2014. It’s one that gets your feet tappin’ and stompin’ while simultaneously contemplating tricky hoop shots and razzle dazzle ball handling. I also hosted musical variety shows where I was known as “the old maestro.” No, I was not Lawrence Welk if that’s what you were thinking! One of my announcers, Harry Von Zell, may be familiar to you from the “Burns & Allen” shows. One of my favorite canaries was Dinah Shore. That’s me in a publicity shot below fully decked out in sartorial splendor with the slicked back hair.  As they almost say at the Indy 500, “{Ladies and} Gentlemen, start your {search} engines!”  So, who am I and what song am I forever associated with? Extra points if you get this without using your internet search engines!

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July 2014

I was raised in a kosher home in Atlantic County, NJ; though, truth be told, I had a pretty tough childhood. I never even got to finish high school. I was blessed with a talent for singing and so I decided that I’d make my living as a singer. I started out slowly by singing commercials and as a vocalist with small bands. Eventually, my sultry sound and smooth phrasing got me gigs as the ‘girl singer’ with some of the biggest big bands then popular in the country to include those of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and Harry James.  I achieved 5 gold records during my career. Of course, along the way, I had to change my name because my original one was  too ethnic sounding!  I appeared in a Technicolor movie with the trumpet player who was the love of my life. The setting for the film is Lake Louise. In 1982 I appeared on stage at the Orrie de Nooyer Auditorium, adjacent to Bergen Academies on Hackensack Avenue, along with other headliners such as Mel Torme, Nappy Lamare, Bob Crosby and the Bob-Cats, Teresa Brewer and others.  Who am I? The brass ring for those who can also name the movie mentioned above, the song I sang in it, and who was my co-star heartthrob that married another woman.  My picture appears below.

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August 2014

I was born in nearby Passaic, New Jersey to Morris and Goldie, immigrant parents from eastern Europe. I was a restless teenager and made my way out to St. Louis where I found myself selling peanuts at the Cardinal’s baseball training camp games. After WWII broke out I enlisted in the army and ending up serving in army transport in both theatres of war. For a time, after I mustered out, I thought about being a chicken farmer; however, those long workdays in the chicken coops were killing me so I decided instead to pursue my interest in the music business by working at record companies and managing concert tours. Eventually, I bought out the former owners and headed the record company myself. We enjoyed success and signed some leading rock bands of the day. You boomers out there will surely remember one of our most famous groups under contract.That would be CCR.

 

My career moved on from records to independent film production. Again, I was lucky and successful enough to share credit in the production of three ‘best picture’ Oscar winning films. My first mega-hit brought the irascible Randle McMurphy and his nemesis, stern Mildred Ratched, a health care provider of sorts, to the screen in the mid-1970’s. In that film, Randle simulates the broadcast of a legendary World Series game. More success in the film industry was to follow. That’s me peeking through the window frame below. (a) Who am I? (b) What film was my first mega-hit? Finally, here’s the tough question: (c) Who was pitching in that World Series game that Randle simulated in real time?

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September 2014

I was born in S. Philly to Russian-Jewish immigrants who later moved to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. My dad worked in the garment business and mom enjoyed designing dresses and fabricating ideas from remnants of cloth. I, on the other hand, chose to live my life working as a painter as well as a fashion and portrait photographer.

I joined a thriving pastoral artist’s colony in north Jersey which became my ‘Walden Pond’, a place where I could get away from it all and cultivate my artistic talent. After the Great War I sailed for Paris, then a mecca for artists, where I probably did my best known work.

Today I am remembered as an avant-garde artist who made major contributions to both the Dada and Surrealist movements. Some of my work appears below. Who am I? What rural N.J. artist’s colony did I join and where was it?

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October 2014

I was born during the war (the big one) in NYC but grew up in Teaneck where I graduated from the public high school. My N.J. affiliation continued through my university studies at R.U.; however, I did cross back over the river to attend law school and pass the N.Y. Bar.

Though some might consider me vertically challenged, I was attracted, for whatever reason, to “b-ball,” first, as an outside counsel, and later on as the big kahunah.  Before I handed the ball off to another, I became known for my marketing ability because I expanded our fan base by encouraging international players to join our teams. Nowadays, viewers in 200 countries can enjoy our games. Never being one who was gender-centric, I also worked hard to promote women’s “b-ball.” My mantra for business success was to form partnerships between our players and their reps.

Right now I think I’ll kick back and enjoy my favorite lunch. That’s me, the future lawyer in the photo below. Who am I?  Who have I handed the ball off to? Anybody know what my favorite lunch is?

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November 2014

I was born into a large rabbinic family in the Austro-Hungarian Empire way back when. Our ‘mishpocha’ emigrated to Wisconsin, the land of all those future “cheese-heads,” before settling in Gotham. I started out doing card tricks and sleight- of- hand tricks while working side-shows at circuses before rising to prominence as both a master illusionist and magician. I became known as the guy who could break loose from anything or anyplace – ropes, strait-jackets, chains and jails couldn’t hold me. In time I became really famous and headlined vaudeville shows and spectacular death-defying events on different continents. Later on I spent some time debunking phony spiritualists. From September 2-4 in 1909 I even appeared right here in a Paterson theatre!  By chance, is there anybody still out there that might have caught my act?

As fate would have it, I passed on at age 52, the very same number as in a deck of cards! I pre-arranged a secret word(s) with my wife to reveal to her should I be able to communicate from the netherworld. Alas, when I didn’t respond after 10 years, my wife gave up on me and remarked, “Ten years is long enough to wait for any man.”

That’s me in the photo below. Don’t be alarmed or misled by those manacles or those balls and chains that I’m wearing. I was not an inmate at Rikers Island! Remember, I was an escape artist.  So, (a) Who am I? (b) What was the secret code word(s) I shared with my wife? Finally, (3) What theatre did I appear at in Paterson in ‘09?

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December 2014

I was born in the Bronx to Romanian and Russian Jewish parents and later attended Washington Irving High School. My dad worked as a clothing salesman.

I made my mark on the silver screen playing opposite such luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Robert Cummings, Joel McCrea, Spencer Tracy, and Fredric March.  A certain studio executive did a lot to advance my career.  To my delight, my remarkable stage and screen career spanned over 50 years!  I was alternatively described as having a sad, heart-shaped face; or one possessing saucer-shaped eyes with bee-stung lips, sort of like that Betty Boop cartoon character.  I was often cast as a victim or a tough girl striving to rise above her gritty circumstances in socially-conscious films.  I was even nominated for an Oscar.

In 1934 I donated some of my movie wardrobe to relatives belonging to an immigrant group right here in Paterson.  I’m told those gowns really perked up their rummage sales that year!  Two of my husbands were pretty famous gents in their own right.  (1) Can you recall their names?  (2) What Jewish immigrant organization did I aid in Paterson?  (3) Which studio executive really advanced my film career?  (4) Do you recognize me from my photo below?  If so, who am I?

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