Milton Miklos Bleier was born on March 27, 1900 in Gitegely, Hungary. His father, Ignatz Bleier, was born in 1874 in Lithuania. His mother Ethel Bleier, was born in 1876 in Lithuania. His parents married in 1895 and had three children, Alex (b.1894), Ethel (b.1896) an Milton (b.1900)
On September 18, 1910 the Bleier family left Hungary and traveled to America on the Steam Ship Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. They arrived in NYC and settled in the Jewish ghetto in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The father eventually owned and operated a Hotel Valet Service Company.
All three children attended NYC public schools, where they enrolled in classes with younger children, because of the extra burden of learning English.
On September 12, 1918, during the Great War, Milton Bleier reported for draft registration. He was recorded at the time to be eighteen, five-eleven, 180 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes, and a fair complexion. Since he was still a student in the 10th grade of high school, he was not selected for military service.
All three children in the Bleier family graduated from high school, but none went on to attend college.
In June of 1920 Milton Bleier graduated from high school, after which he entered the work force as a salesman at Weinstein & Levine Printing Company at 3 West 29th Street.
In 1921 Alex Bleier, age twenty-six, was employed as a chef at the Monopole Restaurant at 27 West 21st Street, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Alex Bleier earned enough to rent a vacation home for the entire family, with nine guest cottages along Sherman Lake, in Cooperstown, NY.
In 1922 Milton Bleier applied for U.S. Citizenship, which he received six years later.
In 1922 Milton Bleier lived with his family at 317 Second Avenue in Manhattan. He worked as a Sales Representative for a books and magazine wholesaler, P. F. Colliers & Sons, at 244 Fifth Avenue on 28th Street.
In 1925 Milton Bleier became the co-owner of Bleier & Brown Publishing Company at 152 West 42nd Street. From this time on, Milton Miklos Bleier preferred to do business as "Michael Bleier."
For several months of every year, the Bleier family enjoyed a vacation at a Jewish community in Catskill, NY.
In 1928 Michael Bleier became the co-owner with Theodore Epstein of Mayfair Publishing Company at 542 Fifth Avenue on 45th Street. The company produced a variety of books about gambling tactics and erotic stories. Theodore Epstein was a business associate of Moe L. Annenberg, Paul Sampliner, Irving Manheimer and Harry Donenfeld. Mayfair Publications listed their editor as "Maurice R. Reese." That was a pen-name for Maurice Ullman Rosenfield (1909-2001), the nephew of Isaac Wise Ullman, who was a long-term business partner of Frank Z. Temerson, as well as Theodore Epstein.
The 1930 U.S. Census listed Michael Bleier living with his family at 911 Walton Avenue in the Bronx.
In 1930 Mayfair Publishing Company produced "The Confessions of an After-Dinner Speaker" by Ernest Dupille.
In 1933 the Mayfair Publishing Company moved to new offices at 1270 Sixth Avenue in the newly-built Rockefeller Center. This same building was also the stage entrance to Radio City Music Hall at 29 West 51st Street. Michael Bleier's brother, Alex Bleier, came to work for the company.
The Mayfair Publishing Company was advertised in the back pages of pulp magazines, comic books and newspapers.
On June 23, 1938 The New York Times reported the Federal Trade Commission had ordered Michael and Alex Bleier, the owners of Mayfair Publishing Company, 1270 Sixth Avenue, to stop printing the false advertising claim "that their piano course enables one to play any tune one can sing, whistle or hum." As well as, "that anyone with or without musical knowledge can play the piano."
On November 23, 1939 The New York Times reported "A new magazine called "Prize Comics" will be published in January by Mayfair Publishing Company. Frank A. Munsey Company is distributor."
On May 16 1940 The New York Sun reported "Feature Publications will publish Boom Comics. It will appear on newsstands in July, distributed by the Frank A. Munsey Company."
The legendary publisher Frank A. Munsey (1854-1925) produced the first pulp magazines and ran a nationwide newspaper syndicate that included The New York Sun. He also produced Munsey's Magazine, Argosy, All-Story Weekly, Flynn's Detective Fiction Weekly, and Railroad Magazine. Munsey owned and operated the Red Star News Company to distribute his periodicals. After his death in 1925 Munsey Publications continued under the Presidency of William T. Dewart (1876-1944), who sold off many assets and explored a wide range of new publishing prospects.
Boom Comics never appeared in print, but Prize Comics lasted for several years and eventually included a Statement of Ownership that identified Bleier & Epstein of 1270 Sixth Avenue as the publishers.
On December 31, 1939 Michael Bleier joined with Theodore Epstein to form Crestwood Publishing. This company was named after the prestigious Crestwood section of Yonkers, NY, where the Yonkers Raceway was located, of which Theodore Epstein, his wife, and two sons were major stockholders.
Crestwood produced digest magazines with pin-ups and gags. Their titles included Army Laughs, Laff Time, Broadway Laughs, and Screwball.
The 1940 U.S. Census listed Milton Bleier living at 192 Walton Avenue in Bronx. He was not married. He lived with his older brother Alex Bleier, who also worked in his brother's publishing business. The Bleier brothers also lived with their sister, Ella Bleier Spielberg, a widow with two sons, Robert (b.1926) and George (b.1916), who worked as a clerk at Crestwood Publishing Company.
In 1940 the NYC Business Directory listed the same telephone number, CIrcle7-5289, for Crestwood Publishing, as well as for Bleier & Brown Publishing, Mayfair Publishing, Pioneer Publishing, and Feature Publications.
Bleier & Epstein also owned Headline Publications, as well as Feature Publications, both of which were located at 1790 Broadway at 58th Street. The entrance on the north side of the building is 5 Columbus Circle, which faces Columbus Circle on 59th Street.
In 1942 Michael Bleier married Sylvia. They lived at 25 Central Park West, where they raised a son, Robert Bleier.
In 1943, during WWII, Michael Bleier again registered with his draft board, but at age forty-three, with a wife and child, he was not selected for service.
Crestwood produced comic books that were created by the legendary Joe Simon (1913-2011) and Jack Kirby (1917-1994).
In 1947 Simon and Kirby offered Crestwood a new true-confession style of comic book, Young Romance. Bleier and Epstein agreed to produce it in exchange for 50% of the profits. The first issue was dated September/October 1947. It sold out quickly, so they tripled the print run, switched to monthly issues, and brought out a companion title, Young Love. The two monthly comics sold two million copies.
After such vast profits, Crestwood Publishing was investigated by the IRS for tax evasion. The case resulted in an audit that revealed a complex financial arrangement under which Bleier and Epstein produced their publications. The most interesting aspect was the role of credit extended by the distributor to fund the publisher's costs for production, printing, and paper. According to the legal brief of the U.S. Tax Court, Crestwood Publishing vs. the IRS, "the company was formed for the purpose of publishing pulp magazines of the type sometimes referred to as 'girlie' and 'gag & cartoon' magazines. Two magazines were published for the first year of operation. Crestwood began business with no paid-in capital. Its method was to obtain paper, printing, and editorial matter on credit to publish the magazines. The publications were handled by national distributors who perform the function of a circulation department and collection agency. Crestwood used five of these national distributors at various times during the years 1940 to 1945. The services of a distributor are obtained through negotiated contracts. The publisher presents the idea for a new publication to a distributor and if the publisher can convince the distributor that the publication will be successful, a contract is entered into. Pulp magazines, which have no subscription circulation to speak of, must of necessity be distributed by a national distributor to be successful. Once the saleability of a magazine is determined, usually after two or three issues, any distributing company would handle the publication. The distribution contracts customarily have a provision allowing either party to terminate the contract after 60 days notice. As was customary in the trade at the time the printed copies of an issue of Crestwood's magazines were delivered for distribution, the distributor advanced to the publisher a small percentage of the anticipated proceeds from sales. A publisher such as Crestwood could use such advances to make payments on its accounts for paper, printing, and other services." Since the distributor handled all proceeds from advertising and newsstand sales, as well as provided credit for operating funds, the question arises as to whether the magazine is actually owned by the publisher or the distributor.
In 1947 Mayfair Publishing Company produced "Can You Win?" by Elliot Friend.
In 1949 Crestwood Publishing began to produce paperback books, Prize Love Novels, Prize Science-Fiction Novels, Prize Western Novels, Black Cat Westerns, and Black Cat Mysteries.
In the 1950 Crestwood produced the mens adventure magazines Man's Life and True Men Stories.
Michael Bleier died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-six at home in NYC on December 5, 1956.
© David Saunders 2016