Harry Donenfeld was born October 17, 1893 in Jassy, Roumania. His father, Isaac Donenfeld, was born in 1862 in Roumania of Jewish ancestry. His mother, Hannah Donenfeld, was born in 1863 in Roumania of Jewish ancestry. His parents married in 1888 and had four children, Jennie (b.1889), Charles (b.1890), Harry (b.1893), and Marcus (b.1898).
In 1900 the family came to America and settled in New York City, where in 1902 their fifth child was born, Irving Donenfeld, which made him the first U.S. Citizen in the family. They lived in a crowded tenement in the Jewish ghetto of the Lower East Side. The father was a peddler.
On August 9, 1908 the father, Isaac Donenfeld, died in Manhattan at the age of forty-six. This tragic death added to the hardships of the struggling family. Harry Donenfeld was fifteen at the time of his father's death, while his two younger brothers, Marcus and Irving, were ten and six. The eldest son, Charles Donenfeld, was seventeen. He supported the family by working at the N. J. Schless Printing Company at 424 West 33rd Street.
On February 23, 1911 the eldest brother, Charles Donenfeld, married Anna Feldner and moved to the Bronx, where they lived with her family and eventually raised four children. After his departure Harry Donenfeld at age seventeen became the head of the family. He worked as a salesmen at the Great Eastern Shirt Waist Manufacturing Company at 104 West 27th Street.
On March 25, 1911 the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory at 29 Washington Place in Greenwich Village burned down and killed 146 employees in the deadliest industrial disaster of NYC history. Horrified public outcry and widespread sympathy for mistreated factory workers prompted the formation of the ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Workers Union). The employees of the Great Eastern Shirt Waist Manufacturing Company, including their young salesman Harry Donenfeld, joined the ILGWU.
On June 5, 1917 Harry Donenfeld reported for draft registration during the Great War. He requested exemption because his family depended on him for support. He was recorded at the time to be twenty-three years old, with brown eyes and black hair, 120 pounds, and five-foot-two, which was below the minimum height requirement. He was not selected for military service.
In 1918 Harry Donenfeld married Gussie Weinstein. She was born March 20, 1896 in Russia and came to America in 1910. The newlyweds left the Lower East side and moved to sunny Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, where they lived at 226 Neptune Avenue. One year later his younger brother Marcus Donenfeld married and moved with his wife Bella Donenfeld into the same apartment on Neptune Avenue. Their mother, sister Jennie, and little brother Irving all moved to the Bronx to live near the growing family of Charles Donenfeld.
On January 17, 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment took effect, which made the sale of alcohol a federal crime. Demand exceeded supply to such an outrageous extent that law enforcement was quickly overwhelmed. Politicians had intended to prohibit unwholesome behavior, but inadvertently generated a national syndicate of organized crime that controlled and coordinated the wholesale import, manufacture, storage, trucking and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Criminal gangs were suddenly involved in a wildly lucrative mass production industry on a scale that was previously unimaginable.
On May 5, 1920 Charles Donenfeld, his wife Anna Feldner Donenfeld and her brother, Benjamin Feldner, joined with Max Marlin, a newspaper printer at Longacre Press, to form the Marlin Printing Company, Inc. They produced leaflets, pamphlets, newsletters, and newspapers for the Leftist community. The company made political contributions to Socialist Party candidates. Among the Political Organizations and Workers Unions served by the Marlin Printing Company was the ILGWU. Those print jobs were arranged by the Financial Officer of the ILGWU, Julius Liebowitz, whose son Jack S. Liebowitz (1900-2000) was a student of accountancy at New York University. In 1921 Harry Donenfeld left the ILGWU and the garment industry to become a salesman at the Marlin Printing Company.
Another radical activist served by the Marlin Printing Company was Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), an outspoken advocate of women's liberation through contraceptive birth control. Her pamphlets, posters, circulars, and newsletters were written by her personal secretary, Harold Hersey (1893-1956), and printed by the Marlin Printing Company. She traveled the world to address rallies and conferences, where she was often arrested for public indecency. Her speeches were regularly featured in Physical Culture Magazine, published by the famous body-builder, health fanatic, and populist, Bernarr Macfadden (1868-1955).
The Marlin Printing Company was located at 45 Rose Street in Lower Manhattan near City Hall in the shadow of the exit ramp from the Brooklyn Bridge. The sturdy industrial buildings on that street were designed to withstand constant vibrations from traffic rumbling over the bridge. All nine floors of the building were rented to printers and each company operated heavy machinery that added to the industrial clatter. Printers around City Hall supplied a constant demand for legal documents, bonds, certificates, leases, deeds, customs stamps & labels, brochures and stationary for civil servants, lawyers, brokers, political parties, organized labor, and Grandees of Tammany Hall.
One block from City Hall under the elevated train tracks was a newsstand at 19 Park Place, which had been operated for twenty years by Henry Tietjen (1873-1931). Thanks to political connections he was appointed Inspector of Newsstand Operator Licenses. He used that political muscle to establish a periodical distribution business with partner Theodore Epstein (1894-1979).
In 1921 Henry Tietjen and Theodore Epstein began to publish a daily four-page tabloid-size racing form, The Daily Racing Tab, which indicated most likely winners of each race based on various behind-the-scene factors. At that time gambling was controlled in NYC by a partnership of three mobsters, Lucky Luciano (1897-1962), Frank Costello (1891-1973), and Arnold Rothstein (1882-1928). It is hard to imagine how Henry Tietjen and Theodore Epstein could have published and distributed The Daily Racing Tab without their complicity.
On May 16, 1922 NYC newspapers reported that the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice had secured the arrest and conviction of Henry Tietjen and Theodore Epstein for distributing obscene magazines. During the raid of their premises the police seized over four thousand copies of Hot Dog Magazine, as well as bundles of Hay Rake, Jazz, Jazza Ka Jazza, Jazz Quirk, Jim Jam Jems, Pajammas, Pamphlet, Pan, and Captain Billy's Whiz Bang. They were ordered to stop distributing indecent magazines and fined $250. They paid the fine and were released from jail.
By 1924 connections to notorious Chicago gangsters helped Max and Moe L. Annenberg accumulate enormous wealth and power by dominating distribution of the nationwide newspaper chain of William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). That year the brothers became Board Members of the Hearst Executive Committee. Max Annenberg bought The New York Daily News and his brother Moe L. Annenberg bought The New York Daily Mirror. They arranged financing for Bernarr Macfadden to purchase The Pictorial Review, The New York Evening Graphic, and The Philadelphia Daily News. These were printed in NYC at Longacre Press, where Max Marlin became Treasurer, and in New Jersey at Jersey City Printing Company. When they needed color for special sections or Sunday supplements they used Art Color Printing of Dunellen, NJ.
Moe L. Annenberg also purchased a nationwide monopoly on racetrack wire services, with an affiliated network of printed racing forms, including The Daily Racing Form, The Running Horse, and The New York Daily Racing Tab, which was produced by Henry Tietjen and Theodore Epstein. It is hard to imagine how Moe L. Annenberg gained control of a nationwide monopoly of racetrack wire services and affiliated racing sheets without the complicity of Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Arnold Rothstein.
In 1924 Moe L. Annenberg organized production of six million promotional brochures for distribution as inserts in Hearst publications. Surprisingly the vendor chosen for this massive project was Harry Donenfeld, a salesman at Marlin Printing, who was neither a printer nor an owner of a press. His only qualification was the trust of Max Marlin, Theodore Epstein and Frank Costello. This lucrative contract was the first big break for Harry Donenfeld.To handle such a project he formed Elmo Press Incorporated, which he listed as a printer of "magazines and newspapers." Although legal documents named his wife and brother-in-law as partners, there is a distinct echo in the name "Elmo" of "Moe L." Annenberg. Another curious note was the 1924 NYC Business Directory, which listed the company at 32 West 22nd Street. That was the same address as the Tab Printing Corporation, where Theodore Epstein produced The Daily Racing Tab in affiliation with Moe L. Annenberg.
In 1924 Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel formed Eastern Distributing Corporation located at 120 West 42nd Street near Times Square. They handled newsstand distribution of periodicals printed by Marlin, Elmo, and Tab Printing. At that same time Eastern Distributing handled Screenland Magazine, a Hollywood fan magazine whose Sales Manager was Frank Armer (1895-1965). Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel arranged for Screenland to be printed by Marlin, Elmo and Tab Printing.
Eastern Distributing handled many digest-sized fan magazines that featured pin-up photos of semi-dressed starlets from Hollywood and the Burlesque stage, along with rapid-fire jokes and ethnic comedy that reflected the popular irreverence of the roaring twenties. They were inexpensive to produce and sold briskly for higher prices than most magazines, so publishers were just as eager to produce indecent magazines as the public was to buy them. Their indecency was also attractive to the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, whose agents repeatedly brought obscenity charges against printers, publishers, and newsstand dealers, which led to arrests, fines, and convictions. To deal with this occupational hazard Eastern Distributing organized a fluid network of incorporated companies designed to legally dodge restrictions that threatened the enterprise. This group of affiliated printers and publishers included Max Marlin, Theodore Epstein, Harry Donenfeld, George Shade, Herman Rawitser, Joe Burten, Henry Marcus and John F. Edwards. They persuaded Frank Armer to leave Screenland Magazine and become their general sales representative.
On March 4, 1925 The New York Times reported in the Business Section a new incorporation of Ramer Reviews, a "bookseller." The corporate partners were Herman Rawitser, H. P, Seligson, and E. S. Silver. The 1925 NYC Business Directory listed Ramer Reviews at 110 West 42nd Street. The first publication of this new company was the March 1925 issue of Artists & Models Magazine. The Publisher was listed as Frank Armer and the Secretary was John F. Edwards (1883-1946). He was the Business Manager of the Broadway Music Corporation, a leading publisher of sheet music for hit tunes from Broadway Shows. The president and founder of the company was Will Von Tilzer (1884-1952), who published classic tunes, such as "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," and invented the expression "Tin Pan Alley." John F. Edwards formed the Bohemian Magazine Company at 131 West 39th Street and published La Boheme, Hot Stuff, and Burten's Follies. Joe Burten, a comic star of Vaudeville, was the editor as well as traveling salesman. He hired a fellow trouper, Henry "The Magician" Marcus, as a writer.
At that same time pulp publisher William M. Clayton, sold several of his risque magazines, including Ginger Stories and Pepper Pot, to affiliates of Eastern Distributing, who repackaged them as Ginger and Pep!
On March 1, 1926 Harry and Gussie Donenfeld had a son, Irwin Donenfeld. The proud Papa formed Irwin Publishing Company, named after his new-born son, and produced Juicy Tales, Joy Stories, and Hot Tales. These magazines featured erotic photographs by Edwin Bower Hesser and Lejaren A. Hiller, as well as illustrations by Worth Carnahan, Adolph Barreaux, Otto Greiner, and Cole Brigham. The editor was Merle Williams Hersey (1889-1956). She was the ex-wife of Harold Hersey, who had advanced from Margaret Sanger's speech writer to Bernarr Macfadden's magazine editor, as well as William M. Clayton's pulp magazine editor. These periodicals were all handled by Eastern Distributing.
On January 21, 1927 Harry Donenfeld's mother, Hannah Donenfeld, died in NYC at the age of sixty-four.
In 1928 Harry and Gussie Donenfeld had a daughter, Sonia Donenfeld.
On February 18, 1928 Elmo Press leased space at 143 West 20th Street.
In October of 1929 the NYC Stock Market crashed and chaos struck the American banking system, which undermined the national economy. The ensuing hardships of the Great Depression affected workers, farmers, and industrialists. The established order of manufacturing collapsed, which devastated the advertising and publishing industries. One of the few businesses that enjoyed rising profits were pulp magazines, which sold cheap thrills to the idle masses from corner newsstands for pocket change. The first to recognize this trend were the distributors, including Warren Angel and Paul Sampliner, who swiftly moved to cast a wider net. They extended credit to ambitious entry-level publishers in exchange for partial ownership and the required use of affiliated printers, suppliers, and advertising representatives. This sort of deal gave the distributor complete control, as well as maximum profit. During this expansive phase Eastern Distributing employed Louis Silberkleit, Martin Goodman, John Goldwater, Frank Armer, and Michael Estrow as Circulation Promoters.
Three young editors who accepted such a deal were Ned L. Pines, Aaron A. Wyn, and Harold Hersey, who later recalled, "Wow! Them was the days! Warren A. Angel was Business Manager and co-owner of my company, Magazine Publishers. We produced Flying Aces, Underworld Magazine and twelve other titles, which were sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies every month. After Bernarr Macfadden and William M. Clayton, Warren A. Angel was the third and most brilliant of all my teachers."
In the summer of 1930 Warren Angel left Eastern Distributing to form Kable News Company with Samuel J. Campbell and the Kable Printing Company of Mount Morris, Illinois. Warren Angel sold his shares in Eastern Distributing to Paul Sampliner and dissolved the corporation, after which Paul Sampliner ran Eastern Distributing as president and majority owner.
In 1931 Harry Donenfeld hired Jack S. Liebowitz as accountant and business manager. On June 5, 1931 Harry Donenfeld formed Donny Press, whose address was the same as Elmo Press at 143 West 20th Street. He hired his youngest brother Irving Donenfeld to supervise the operation.
In 1931 George Delacorte published Ballyhoo, a satire magazine with sensational sales. Other publishers rushed to produce imitations. Fawcett made Hooey, Clayton made Bunk and Donenfeld made KooKoo. The indicia of KooKoo listed Joe Burten as publisher with editorial offices at 1025 Longacre Building. This deceptive address was a room on the tenth floor of the Longacre Building at 147 West 42nd Street. That was the office of Longacre Press, where the Treasurer was Max Marlin, the owner of the Marlin Printing Company.
In 1931 Harry Donenfeld formed Donenfeld Magazines (D.M.) Publishing Corporation. He leased office space on the ninth floor of 480 Lexington Avenue. The building occupied the entire four sides of one city block. The east side faced Lexington Avenue. The south side faced 46th Street. The west side faced Park Avenue, and the north side faced 47th Street. The main lobby entrance was at 480 Lexington Avenue. There was a delivery entrance on the south side at 125 East 46th Street. The entrance on the west side was 245 Park Avenue. The north side had a service entrance at 114 East 47th Street. These four entrances to the same building all served to insulate the rising wealth of Harry Donenfeld from the inevitable jeopardy of his various risky business ventures.
This giant 480 Lexington Avenue building was one part of a massive development project that covered twelve city blocks around Grand Central Station, which included the Chrysler Building, the Waldorf-Astoria, the Commodore Hotel, the Helmsley Building, and the Graybar Building at 420 Lexington, where Warren Angle rented office space for C&A, Kable News as well as his affiliated Advertising Representative, William J. Delaney, who headed the Newsstand Fiction Group.
Once a week Harry Donenfeld and Frank Costello visited the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue and 49th Street to sit side-by-side in art deco barber chairs for an over-priced manicure, shave, and haircut. The barber, Johan Szokoli, was the father of a young artist, Joseph Szokoli, who had recently graduated from the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn. As an extra tip, the barber's son was given steady work illustrating publications under the art direction of Adolph Barreaux, who ran the Majestic Art Studio at 125 East 46th Street, which was the south side entrance to 480 Lexington Avenue.
In 1932, as a growing number of clients were lost to Kable News Company, Eastern Distributing declared bankruptcy. One week later Paul Sampliner went into business with Harry Donenfeld to form IND (Independent News Distribution) at 245 Park Avenue, which was the west side entrance to 480 Lexington Avenue. IND handled the stranded clients of Eastern Distributing. In retrospect those unpaid clients felt the move was designed to avoid contractual obligations.
As President of IND Paul Sampliner offered the same deal to extend credit to aspiring publishers who were willing to form new companies that gave IND control of production costs, sales accounts, distribution, and partial ownership. Willing sports on such a gamble included Frank Armer, Merle William Hersey, Michael Estrow, Henry Marcus, Hugh Layne, John F. Edwards, William Von Tillzer, and George Shade.
In 1932 Harry Donenfeld bought The National Police Gazette at bankruptcy auction for $545. To re-launch the venerable sports tabloid with Merle Williams Hersey as editor, they formed the Merwil Publishing Company. That name combined the first syllables of the editor's maiden name. Over the next several months considerable publicity was generated, including an article in The Press section of Time Magazine.
Harry Donenfeld allowed debts to accumulate on Elmo Press, until September 16, 1932 when it declared bankruptcy. It's assets were acquired by Merwil Publishing Company. In retrospect his debtors felt the move was designed to avoid contractual obligations.
In 1933 Harry Donenfeld formed Tilsam Publications to produce Real Screen Fun, a Hollywood fan magazine. The Editor was John F. Edwards, who was also Business Manager of the Broadway Music Corporation, which was owned by William Von Tilzer. The company name "Tilsam" combined the first syllables of Tilzer and Sampliner.
In November 1933 Harry Donenfeld formed Super Magazines, Inc., with Frank Armer to produce a new type of pulp magazine that combined the erotic quality of their previous magazines with the conventional themes of pulp fiction, Detective, Adventure, Western and Romance. Their first magazine was Super Detective, which ran for two years. Advanced publicity announced the release three additional titles, Super Western, Super Adventure, and Super Love. Subsequent prototypes for copyrighting were titled Snappy Western, Snappy Adventure, and Snappy Mystery, but the actual magazines that finally appeared at newsstands were Spicy Western, Spicy Adventure, and Spicy Mystery.
Inevitably The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice charged Harry Donenfeld with producing obscene periodicals, Spicy Stories, Gay Parisienne, La Paree, and Pep Stories. Upon close inspection the prosecutor noticed one particularly offensive image in the January 1934 issue of Pep Stories. The defense attorney, William K. Friedman, was highly regarded by NYC publishers. Harry Donenfeld spoke with reporters about his defiance of the ban. When the judge agreed the publication was obscene the case was bound to result in conviction. The publisher was saved from jail when Herbert M. Siegel, an accommodating clerk in the financial department of Jack Liebowitz, came forward to claim full responsibility for unilaterally inserting the objectionable material into the magazine without the knowledge of his employer. He was fined and sentenced to jail. This same legal defense had been famously used ten years earlier to spare the president of the McClure Syndicate, Clinton T. Brainard, from conviction in his obscenity trial for the novel Madeleine. Herbert M. Siegel was born April 1, 1904 in Brooklyn of Roumanian Jewish ancestry. He served his time as a model prisoner and was released early and welcomed back to work by Harry Donenfeld. For the next thirty years he arrived at work every day to sit at his desk and read the newspaper until quitting time. He developed a nervous habit of pacing the office floor, which in some ways reflected the narrow confinement of his fate. One saving grace was a sincere brotherly friendship that grew between the faithful Roumanian clerk and his brash Roumanian boss.
After the trial Harry Donenfeld removed his name from all but his most wholesome publications, and formed Culture Publications at 900 Market Street in Wilmington, Delaware, well away from the jurisdiction of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.
On May 17, 1935 his mother, Hannah Donenfeld, died at the age of seventy-one at her eldest son's home in the Bronx.
On January 11, 1936 Donny Press moved to 653 Eleventh Avenue on 48th Street, among the Hudson River shipping piers, warehouses and freight trains of Hell's Kitchen in Midtown Manhattan.
In 1937 he negotiated a contract to publish The Lone Ranger Magazine, based on the popular radio show. To handle this unique project he formed Trojan Publishing Corporation at 125 East 46th Street, and made Frank Armer the Company President.
On December 30, 1937 Harry Donenfeld, William J. Delaney, and National Allied Newspaper Syndicate orchestrated an enforced bankruptcy of the Nicholson Publishing Company for outstanding debts of $63,380. By June of 1938 this legal maneuver gave Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz control of the company, which included its most valuable property, Superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
In 1939 Superman became a McClure Syndicated newspaper comic strip. That same year the spectacular World's Fair was staged in Flushing, Queens, for which Harry Donenfeld produced New York World's Fair Comics.
In 1939 Harry Donenfeld joined with Irving S. Manheimer to extend operating credit to ambitious entry-level publishers of comic books through PDC (Publishers Distributing Corporation) at 1481 Broadway.
In 1939 Harry Donenfeld and Paul Sampliner, in coordination with Frank Armer and Michael Estrow, formed Leader News Company at 114 East 47th Street (the north side entrance to 480 Lexington). This affiliated company distributed all Culture and Trojan publications. Artists that painted covers for Culture and Trojan magazines were Hugh J. Ward, Joseph Szokoli, Harry L. Parkhurst, and William F. Soare. Artists who drew interior story illustrations included Max Plaisted, Jay McArdle, William Meilink, Newton Alfred, Frank Volp, Paul H. Stone, Henry C. Kiefer, Paul H. Jepsen, Joseph Szokoli and Harry L. Parkhurst.
On February 2, 1940 The Adventures of Superman radio show began to broadcast over the Mutual Radio Network. The shows where written by Robert Maxwell Joffe, who also wrote the theme music. He was one of the top pulp authors of risque short stories in Spicy Adventure Stories, La Paree, and Pep!
Harry Donenfeld commissioned his top cover artist, Hugh J. Ward, to paint an official life-sized portrait of Superman. He planned to mail photos of it to radio listeners and publish it as a fan photo cover of Superman Comic #6 in September 1940, but instead used a cartoon version of the painting. Harry Donenfeld installed the painting on the wall behind his desk at the office of DC Comics, where it hung for the rest of his professional career.
The same District Attorney and Federal Judge who had historically convicted Al Capone of tax evasion, brought similar charges against Moe L. Annenberg, who was convicted on April 20, 1940 to serve three years in Federal prison and to pay a fine of $8,000,000, which was the largest such penalty in U.S. history. Before incarceration he installed his son, Walter Annenberg (1908-2002), as business successor to assure smooth continuity of his vast empire.
In 1941 the Fleischer Studios released the first animated color cartoon of Superman. Harry Donenfeld publicized various Superman products in a uniquely personal way that resulted in his own renown as a popular culture celebrity.
Moe L. Annenberg's health declined while serving his three-year sentence in Lewisburg Pennsylvania State Prison, until doctors urged his release for medical treatment on June 3, 1942. He traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis for an emergency brain operation, after which he died at the age of sixty-five on July 20, 1942.
In 1946 Harry and Gussie Donenfeld were proud to inform social columnists that their son and daughter were engaged. Irwin Donenfeld married Arlene Judith Levy, a Law School graduate, and Sonia Donenfeld married Frederick H. Iger, a veteran of WWII Army Corps of Engineers and a student at NYU. As soon as he graduated Harry Donenfeld made his new Son-In-Law co-owner of ACG (American Comics Group) at 45 West 45th Street. The other co-owner, Benjamin Sangor (1889-1953), was the Brother-In-Law of Paul Sampliner. Mrs. Frances Unger Sangor was the sister of Mrs. Sophie Unger Sampliner.
In 1948 Hollywood produced a serialized motion picture of Superman, which was followed by a popular television show.
On January 21, 1949 Warren Angel died at the age of sixty-two. After his death Samuel J. Campbell continued to lead Kable News to even greater prosperity.
Trojan Publishing Corporation produced increasingly fewer pulp magazines and finally switched to digest-sized format. The last such magazines were Pocket Detective and Pocket Western at the end of 1950.
In 1950 Frank Armer and Adolph Barreaux started Trojan Comics. The first two titles were Crime Smashers and Western Crime Busters. Several covers duplicated previously published pulp magazine cover paintings. All Trojan Comics were distributed by Leader News Company.
On March 07, 1951 The New York Times Business Section reported that Trojan Magazines at 125 East 46th Street had filed for bankruptcy with declared debts of $154,448. Two months later NY Courts confirmed bankruptcy arrangements for Trojan Magazines, whose address was revealingly listed as 480 Lexington Avenue. The publishing company continued to operate for another three years, while court-appointed supervisors, Michael Estrow and his father Stanley Estrow, garnished a portion of the profit on behalf of debtors.
In 1954 comic book publishers adopted the policy of self-censorship according to the Comics Code Authority, which added further hardships to an industry struggling with the growing popularity of television.
At mid-century ANC (American News Company) dominated the national newsstand distribution market. It was a massive company that operated hundreds of wholesale outlets with thousands of employees and a nationwide network of warehouses, cargo and freight handling subsidiaries. The NYC headquarters were at 9 Park Place in Lower Manhattan across from City Hall. The only rival to ANC was ID (Independent Distributors), which was a council of independent distributors, chief among whom were S-M News Company, Interborough News, Garfield News, IND, and Leader News. Interborough News, located at 525 West 52nd Street, had a unique monopoly on newsstands in the NYC subway system and related transportation terminals. In 1955 eleven percent of the stock in ANC was acquired by Henry Garfinkle (1903-1983), who then became President of the Board. He owned Garfield News Company, which was a member of the ID council. He instituted a disastrous reorganization that swiftly caused the complete collapse of ANC. Repercussions from that industrial meltdown devastated the American publishing industry and generated widespread misgivings about the ulterior motives of Henry Garfinkle. When the dust had settled ID was the uncontested dominant National newsstand distributor. Although S-M News had controlling interest of the ID council, IND and Leader News Company were suddenly major distributors. Harry Donenfeld used this power to dominate the comic book field and to force rival publishers to accept stifling constrictions, while his own comic books enjoyed a lucrative era of prosperity.
Harry Donenfeld became a generous donor to a variety of righteous charities, and was a founder of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
In 1958 poor health forced him to retire from business at the age of sixty-five. He moved to a mansion in Riverdale, NY, where his giant portrait of Superman by Hugh J. Ward hung over the livingroom fireplace. It was clearly a prize possession of his remarkable career.
During the final years he suffered a crippling paralysis, but his faithful pal Herbert M. Siegel remained at his bedside, and was occasionally visited by his old friend Frank Costello.
On February 16, 1961 Gussie Weinstein Donenfeld died in her Park Avenue apartment at the age of sixty-four.
Harry Donenfeld died at the age seventy-one on February 26, 1965. Six months later on August 30, 1965 Herbert M. Siegel quietly died in his Manhattan apartment at the age of sixty-one.
Four years later ANC merged with Kable News, IND, Leader News, PDC and Garfield News to form Ancorp National Services, the nation's largest retailer of periodicals, with Paul Sampliner, Jack Liebowitz, Irving S. Manheimer, and Samuel J. Campbell on the Executive Board of Directors, along with the sons of William Randolph Hearst and Moe L. Annenberg.
© David Saunders 2014