Henry Marcus was born on November 5, 1881 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Abraham Henry Marcus, was born in 1851 in Prussia of Jewish ancestry and came to America in 1870. His mother, Sophia Marcus, was born in 1860 in Germany of Jewish ancestry and came to America in 1875. His parents married in Philadelphia on December 12, 1880 and had three children. Henry Marcus was their first child. His younger sisters, Bertha and Retta Marcus, were born in 1883 and 1886. The family lived at 1942 North 19th Street. The father was a pawnbroker.
In January of 1900 Henry Marcus graduated high school and then began to attend the Jefferson Medical School of Philadelphia.
In June of 1903 he completed his Sophomore Year and spent the summer with a traveling theater troupe, which starred the popular magician Horace Goldin (1867-1939). By the end of summer he decided to quit medical school and seek his fortune as a Vaudeville entertainer. He fell in love with a chorus girl, whose exotic stage name was Flora de Leon, although her name was Clara Gelberg when she was born in 1878 in Brooklyn. They married on May 28, 1904. They performed a successful magic act as "Henry The Magician and his beautiful assistant Flora de Leon," which toured vaudeville theaters throughout the United States and Canada until 1914 when their marriage ended unhappily in divorce. They had no children. During those years he occasionally visited his parents in Philadelphia, but his primary residence was a lodging house in New York City at 325 West 46th Street in the theatrical district known as Tin Pan Alley.
In the summer of 1918 during the Great War Henry Marcus was thirty-seven years old. He joined the cast of "America's Over There" and by special arrangement of the National War Work Council and the YMCA the show was sent overseas to entertain soldiers in England and France. After the war he returned to America with the added stature of top billing in the vaudeville circuit for his magic act of sawing a woman in half.
On April 21, 1922 his father Abraham Henry Marcus died at the age of seventy in Philadelphia. At that time Henry Marcus was a divorced forty-year old veteran of twenty-years in Vaudeville with no savings or dependable income.
Another Vaudeville star on the same circuit was the Irish comedian, Joe Burten (1893-1967), who headlined a troupe of Musical Comedy Merry Makers. According to press accounts, "They have delighted audiences wherever they have been with their line of fun and comedy and a chorus line of six dancing damsels with elaborate wardrobes, new songs and their own special scenery." After each show Burten sold crowds of "stage-door johnnies" a souvenir program entitled, Joe Burton's Follies, which featured pin-up photos of his chorus girls, gags from the show and tune lyrics. Burten arranged to have his digest-sized magazines produced by the Broadway Music Corporation at 145 West 45th Street, which copyrighted and published sheet music of popular show tunes sold at Burlesque theaters. The Manager of the Broadway Music Corporation was John F. Edwards (1883-1946), who was born in Brooklyn on August 13, 1883. Impressive sales of Burten's Follies convinced John F. Edwards to go into business with Joe Burten and produce additional copies for distribution by Theodore Epstein (1894-1979), of 7 West 22nd Street, whose connections to organized crime allowed him to handle NYC newsstand sales of racing forms and indecent publications, such as Jim Jam Jems, Hot Dog, Whiz Bang, and Jazza Ka Jazza, all of which were digest-sized magazines for fans of the Burlesque Stage, containing pin-up photos of semi-dressed starlets interspersed with rapid-fire jokes and ethnic comedy skits that reflected the popular irreverent flavor of the roaring twenties.
The top Broadway show of the 1922-1923 season was "Make It Snappy" at the Winter Garden Theatre, which starred Eddie Cantor singing his major jazz-age hits, "The Sheik of Araby" and "Yes! We Have No Bananas."
By 1924 connections to notorious Chicago gangsters had helped Max and Moses Annenberg to accumulate enormous wealth and power by dominating distribution of the nationwide newspaper chain of William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). That year Max Annenberg bought The New York Daily News and his brother Moses Annenberg bought The New York Daily Mirror. They were also financially involved with Bernarr Macfadden's (1868-1955) purchase of The New York Evening Graphic and The Philadelphia Daily News. These tabloid papers were printed at the Jersey City Printing Company in New Jersey. When they needed color for special sections or Sunday supplements they used Art Color Printing of Dunellen, NJ.
Moses Annenberg also owned a nationwide monopoly on racetrack wire services, with an affiliated network of racing forms, including The Daily Racing Form, The Running Horse, as well as The New York Daily Racing Tabloid, which was published by Theodore Epstein. These connections brought additional muscle to Joseph Burten's publications, along with new titles, mass production and nationwide distribution.
Edwards, Epstein and Burten founded The Bohemian Magazine Company at 131 West 39th Street. That name came from a defunct periodical, which had won "smart" acclaim in 1910 under the editor Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945). The new Bohemian published Burten's Follies, La Boheme, and Hot Stuff. This expansion required additional employees. Bernarr Macfadden's associate, Harold Hersey (1893-1956), arranged to have his ex-wife, Merle Williams Hersey (1889-1956), hired as an editor. She hired Worth Carnahan as designer and illustrator. Joe Burten hired his old "college-educated" pal, Henry "The Magician" Marcus, as a writer and editor.
In 1925 Henry Marcus met a secretary, Dorothy Unterlack, who worked with John F. Edwards at the Broadway Music Corporation. She was born July 13, 1890 in NYC of German ancestry and had an eighth grade education. They married in 1926 and moved to 70-35 Broadway in Flushing Queens, NY.
The August 1925 Artists & Models with cover by Lejaren A. Hiller and was published by Ramer Reviews, of which the president was Frank Armer (1895-1965) and the Secretary was John F. Edwards. The executive offices were listed at 110 West 42nd Street.
In 1930 when questioned by a U.S. Census Worker Henry Marcus listed his occupation as "Magazine Journalist."
The March 1930 Writer's Digest published "The Formula For Sex Stories" by Joseph Lichtblau, which listed Henry Marcus as editor of La Boheme, Follies, Nifty Stories, and Real Smart. Instead of crediting these titles to "The Bohemian Magazine Company" the article listed "The Crown Publishing Company of Wilmington, Delaware." Ambitious authors were inexplicably advised to address unsolicited manuscripts to, "The Fantasy Publishing Company at 25 West 43rd Street." These abrupt switcharoos were common practice at the time for publishers of indecent magazines, who faced periodic indictment on obscenity charges. The old cliché of a crooked Bedouin trader who folds his tent and disappears into the night was an appealing defensive measure for such publishers. This "fly-by-night" approach also had the added advantage of confounding unpaid bill collectors. Aggressive prosecution by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice led several publishers of such magazines to "relocate" at least their "front office" mailing address to out-of-state jurisdictions, such as Wilmington, Delaware, which is only thirty miles from Philadelphia along the Delaware River and Northeast Corridor rail service.
In 1931 Moses Annenberg used his influence with Chicago's largest newspaper printing company, W. F. Hall, to branch out and purchase Art Color Printing in Dunellen, NJ. At that same time W. F. Hall bought the Edward Langer Printing Plant at 184th Street in Queens, NY. In consequence of these developments John F. Edwards became President of Reliance News Distribution Company, an affiliate of W. F. Hall, and Joseph Burten became a Circulation Promoter for W. F. Hall, while pulps edited by Henry Marcus listed their address as Washington & South Streets in Dunellen, NJ., as did 140,000,000 annual periodicals from Macfadden Publications.
In 1931 John F. Edwards, Frank Armer, Joseph Burten, and Henry Marcus founded Follywood Publishing Company in Jersey City, New Jersey, which produced Parisian Life, Hollywood Nights, French Follies, and Real Art Studies.
In 1931 Bernarr Macfadden acquired Liberty Magazine, in partial payment for which Max Annenberg gained control of The Detroit Mirror, a tabloid newspaper with a daily circulation of 170,000 that featured notable cartoonists Chester Gould and Bert Whitman.
One year later in August of 1932 The Detroit Mirror mysteriously ceased publication.
On September 23, 1932 The New York Times reported that Follywood Publications owed $1,646.11 to the Sherman Paper Company.
The December 1932 Writer's Digest reported that Follywood Publishing and Frank Armer's Narvel Publishing were related companies.
On February 25, 1933 Henry Marcus copyrighted with the Breezy Music Publishing Corporation the song "Jig-Saw Melody" with tune by Raymond Walker. The lyrics were co-written by Bob Maxwell, a prolific pulp author whose full name was Robert Maxwell Joffe (1907-1971). He was born in NYC on March 22, 1907, the son of a dentist. He lived on Long Island in Cutchogue, NY. "Bob Maxwell" also wrote under the pseudonyms "Clayton Maxwell," "Jean Maxwell," and "Claire Kennedy." For instance, the October 1933 issue of Broadway Follies, edited by Henry Marcus, featured "Naked Nero" by "Claire Kennedy."
On May 1, 1933 the Business Section of The New York Times reported that John F. Edwards, magazine editor and publisher, of 91 Oxford Street in Rockville Center, Long Island, NY, had filed for bankruptcy with $109,497.81 in debts and no assets.
In 1933 Bow-Man Publishing Company, located at 115 West 27th Street, produced New York Nights and French Nightlife Stories. The name "Bow-Man" combined phonetic equivalents of the last names of Sidney Boehm and Joseph Mann.
At that same time Henry Marcus edited Ginger Stories, Sizzling Detective Mysteries, and Sizzling Romances.
The "Crown Publishing Company" was renamed "Nuregal." Although the publishers' names were in constant flux, the editorial chores of Henry Marcus and his loyal cast of writers and artists remained recognizably familiar. Artists included Raymond A. Burley, W. Cole Brigham, Reginald Greenwood and George Quintana. In the November 1933 issue of Stolen Sweets the company president is listed as Henry Marcus, while his wife "D. Marcus" is listed as "Treasurer and Secretary.
The December 1933 Author & Journalist listed Henry Marcus as editor of Bedtime Stories, Tattle Tales, Cupid's Capers and Stolen Sweets from Nuregal Publishing at 145 West 45th Street.
In 1934 he published Art Visions and Highest Art, as well as International Nude-Land Magazine, which featured photograph of nudists and illustrations by Reginald Greenwood. The indicia of the first issue listed the owner as "The Francis Publishing Company" of 145 West 45th Street. It is worth noting that "Francis" is the middle name of John Francis Edwards, who managed the Broadway Music Corporation at 145 West 45th Street. Subsequent issues are credited to "Nudeal Publishing Company," which is a clever combination of "Nude" with the topical slogan, "New Deal." The company was later renamed "Edmar," which combines the first syllables of the last names of John F. Edwards and Henry Marcus.
In 1934 NYC Mayor LaGuardia banned the sale of obscene magazines at newsstands. His blacklist included all magazines edited by Henry Marcus.
The October 1934 Writers Digest noted that Nuregal Publishing Company, under Henry Marcus, had been reorganized, which caused delays and resulted in several changes to magazines. That same month Authors & Journalists reported that Bedtime Stories and Tattle Tales, which were formerly published by Nuregal had been taken over by the "Detinuer Publishing Company," at 799 Broadway, under the editor, Merle Williams Hersey, of the "Merwil Publishing Company." It is worth noting that "Detinuer" spelled backwards is "Reunited," which signifies that Henry Marcus and Merle Hersey had been rejoined by D. M. Publications. "D.M." stands for "Donenfeld Magazines."
The name "Merwil" combined the first syllables of the editor's maiden name, Merle Williams. She had married Harold Hersey in 1914, when they were both young clerks working for the government in Washington, D.C. Their daughter Dorothy Merle Hersey was born on December 7, 1914. The following year Harold Hersey moved to NYC as a devoted secretary to Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), a popular advocate of Women's Liberation through Birth Control. She introduced him to Bernarr Macfadden, a health-conscious publisher, whose flagship magazine, Physical Culture, regularly covered Margaret Sanger's sensational activities, arrests, trails, and speeches, which were written by Harold Hersey. Macfadden hired him as a writer and editor, but Hersey also worked for Macfadden's business associate, William Mann Clayton (1884-1946), a publisher with whom Hersey developed an impressive career in pulp magazines.
The Merwil Company was owned by Harry Donenfeld (1893-1965), whose family ran a printing press. He first became a publisher in 1928 when he bought at bankruptcy auction several of William Mann Clayton's magazines, Ginger, Pepper Pot and Snappy Stories.
A few years later Harry Donenfeld bought at bankruptcy auction for $545 The Police Gazette, the venerable barbershop tabloid of pin-ups, gags and sporting news, which he revived as a Merwil Publication. The new version was edited by Merle Hersey with Adolphe Barreaux as Art Director.
In November of 1934 "Nuregal" became "The Burnham Company" and Stolen Sweets became Real Forbidden Sweets. Bedtime Stories became Boudoir Tales. Cupid's Capers became French Capers, and Tattle Tales became Tempting Tales.
In December 1934 Henry Marcus joined with Cashel St. John Pomeroy (1868-1946), who had been replaced by Phil Painter as editor of Courtland H. Young's Publishing Company, to produce Snappy Detective Mysteries, Snappy Romances, and Real Movie Fun, a Hollywood fan magazine of black and white pin-ups, gags and illustrations by Leo Manso (1914-1993).
In November 1934 Merle Hersey filed for bankruptcy and Harry Donenfeld suspended production of The Police Gazette, which he sold a few months later for $2800 to Harold H. Roswell, an newspaper magazine advertising representative.
In 1935 New York Nights and French Nightlife Stories listed H.M. Publishing Company at 115 West 27th Street. "H.M." means "Henry Marcus." The address is the same as "Bow-Man Publications."
The November 1935 Author & Journalist reports that "Nudeal" has become "Burnham Publishing" and suspended several titles. The company is listed at 1819 Broadway, which is the same address of the Ultem Publishing Company of Isaac W. Ullman and Frank Z. Temerson, who produced Real Movie Fun.
In 1936 "H.M." became "Best Publishing," which produced Screen Scandals and French Scandals.
On December 11, 1936 The Washington Post reported that Henry Marcus, President of Best Publishing Company of NYC and John F. Edwards, President of the Reliance News Company of NYC, were sentenced by the U.S. District Court at Baltimore to serve three months in jail and pay fines of $1,000 each for interstate sales of obscene magazines, Ginger and Stolen Sweets. Both men paid the fines and served the time.
On April 24, 1937 Henry Marcus copyrighted a "Everybody's God" a play in three acts.
In 1939 his wife Dorothy Marcus was listed as a secretary at the Broadway Music Corporation.
In 1940 Henry and Dorothy lived at 80-24 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens, NY.
On April 25, 1942 Henry Marcus reported for draft registration during WWII. He was recorded at the time to be sixty, six-two, 175 pounds, hazel eyes, and brown hair. He listed his place of employment as 415 Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan. This was the address of The Reliance News Company, of which John F. Edwards was President.
On May 15, 1942 his associate, Bob Maxwell (Robert Maxwell Joffe), copyrighted the song "Superman" with music by Freddie Fisher with the Shapiro Bernstein Music Publishing Co., an affiliate of the Broadway Music Corp. The author went on to write and direct episodes of the popular radio show The Adventures of Superman, which used his song as theme music.
In 1943 Henry Marcus produced Bits of Beauty magazine, which featured photos of strippers, chorus lines, and dressing rooms with ribald jokes and gags. It was distributed by PDC, which was owned by Irving S. Manheimer, the President of Macfadden Publications. It was printed at 345 Hudson Street and the editorial offices were 31-21 54th Street in Woodside, Queens, NY, which was the home of Henry and Dorothy Marcus.
After WWII Henry and Dorothy Marcus retired from publishing and moved back to his home town, Philadelphia, where they lived with his sister Bertha Marcus.
Henry Marcus died at the age of seventy in Philadelphia on August 27, 1952.
Eight years later on November 17, 1960 his old Vaudeville pal, Joseph Burten, was indicted in Texas for interstate sale of pornography published by W. F. Hall Company and printed at Art Color Press of Dunellen, NJ.
© David Saunders 2014