Louis Horace Silberkleit was born November 17, 1900 in Manhattan. His father, Israel Silberkleit, was born in 1865 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His mother, Julia Winik, was born in 1867 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His parents came to America in 1885 and settled in New York City, where they married in 1888 and had five children, Henrietta (b.1891), Elizabeth (b.1893), Jacob (b.1896), Goldie (b.1899), and Louis (b.1900). The family lived at 299 East Third Street on the Lower East Side. The father worked as a tailor.
By 1910 the father was a subcontractor at the Majestic Cloak Company at 31 West 7th Street. The Silberkleit family left the crowded immigrant ghetto of East Third Street and moved to an apartment in the Bronx at 1067 Jackson Avenue.
On June 8, 1917 his older brother Jacob Silberkleit married Sadie Schneckendorf and moved out. They lived in a nearby Bronx apartment and raised two sons, Lawrence (b.1918) and William (b.1922).
In September of 1917 his older sister Elizabeth Silberkleit married Edwin S. Lurie and moved to their own apartment.
In June of 1919 Louis Silberkleit graduated from Morris High School in the Bronx.
Although often cited, no record of enrollment nor bestowal of any degree from St. John's College has been found. This absence of documentation suggests either he did not attend the college or did so under an assumed name.
In 1923 Louis Silberkleit began to work as Circulation Promoter for The New York Evening Mail, where the Radio Page was edited by Lloyd Jacquet. In 1924 Frank Munsey (1854-1925) bought and merged that newspaper with The New York Evening Telegram. After his death in 1925 Hearst Publications became the major owner of Munsey Publications.
On November 18, 1924 legal documents were registered in New York State to charter a new incorporation, Eastern Distributing Corporation, which listed three partners, Warren Angel (1887-1949), Paul Sampliner (1898-1975) and Morris Falter (1870-1935). Morris Falter was the uncle of Paul Sampliner, which suggests Paul Sampliner had majority control. Their offices were at 45 West 45th Street. Eastern Distributing handled sales of magazines and candy to newsstands. Along with these conventional duties the company also offered publishers credit for operating funds in exchange for control of related services, such as printing, paper, plate engraving, trucking, warehousing, and overseas sales. These services were provided by affiliated subcontractors who worked for discounted prices on large orders. This risky approach to business reflected the reckless ambition of the roaring twenties, which brought Warren Angel and Paul Sampliner into association with powerful publishers, syndicates, unions and mobsters.
One such affiliated business was The Tab Printing Corporation, owned by Theodore Epstein, who produced The Daily Racing Tab for Moe L. Annenberg, a member of the Hearst Executive Council, which at that time arranged financing for Bernarr Macfadden to acquire The New York Graphic, a tabloid newspaper.
In 1925 Theodore Epstein registered two new incorporations, Publishers Distributing Corporation (PDC) and Publishers Surplus Corporation (PSC). PSC handled overseas sales of unsold recent periodicals.
In 1925 Louis Silberkleit began to work for Eastern Distributing. One of his clients was Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967), an inventor and entrepreneur from Luxembourg, who operated an import business of electronic supplies. He promoted sales by publishing a variety of catalogs and periodicals.
The 1925 New York State (Special) Census listed Louis Silberkleit as a Circulation Manager of periodicals. He lived at home with his parents and older sister Henrietta Silberkleit at 1067 Jackson Avenue in the Bronx.
In April of 1926 The New York Times printed several advertisements from Eastern Distributing Corporation that offered to rent a portion of their office space at 45 West 45th Street.
On May 16, 1926 Louis Silberkleit married Lillian Meisel in the Bronx. She was born on April 20, 1903 in Lithuania of Jewish ancestry and came to America in 1914. Her family lived at 1487 St. Mark's Avenue in Brooklyn.
In July of 1926 The New York Times printed a Help Wanted advertisement from Eastern Distributing Corporation, located in room #502 at 45 West 45th Street for an experienced stenographer.
In 1926 Warren Angel and Paul Sampliner hired Irving S. Manheimer, the Foreman of Circulation at Collier's Weekly Magazine, to become Circulation Manager at Eastern Distributing. At that same time he was appointed Director of PDC and PDS, which were both owned by Theodore Epstein.
By 1928 Warren Angel, Paul Sampliner, and Louis Silberkleit distributed several publications of Hugo Gernsback. As with their other clients, Hugo Gernsback allowed Eastern Distributing to handle his production through their affiliated subcontractors. This deal soon produced increased sales, increased profits, and increased debts, which culminated in a complex reorganization of Hugo Gernsback's company, which was legally forced to declare bankruptcy on February 21, 1929. His company was reorganized in cooperation with Eastern Distributing and a financial syndicate headed by Bernarr Macfadden.
After the dust had settled the former properties of Hugo Gernsback were handled by several different companies, such as Stellar Publications, Teck Publishing, Forward Publications, Experimenter Publications, Modern Publications, and Grenpark Novelties. The executive officers of these companies included Hugo Gernsback, Bernarr Macfadden, Irving S. Manheimer, and Frank Armer, while the production and distribution was handled by Eastern Distributing, which moved at that same time to 120 West 42nd Street.
After May of 1929 Hugo Gernsback's Business Manager became Irving S. Manheimer, who also continued to serve as President of both PDC and PDS.
In 1929 Louis Silberkleit was promoted to Circulation Manager at Eastern Distributing. He soon hired a young assistant, named Martin Goodman (1908-1992), who at that time was twenty-one.
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 and farmers, as well as industrialists, unions, and bootleggers. The established order of manufacturing collapsed, which devastated the advertising and publishing industries.
Over the next few years, as our nation struggled with the specter of class war, a complex web of independent companies worked together to gain control of the distribution industry. This deceptive approach to dominate industrial power in many ways paralleled simultaneous events in the history of organized labor.
One of the few areas in publishing that enjoyed any profitability 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, Paul Sampliner, Irving Manheimer, and Louis Silberkleit, who all swiftly moved to cast a wider net.
In February 1930 Eastern Distributing moved from 120 West 42nd Street to the Albano Building at 305 East 46th Street. Along with their efforts to sell their full-service deal to existing publishers, they also offered credit to ambitious entry-level publishers in exchange for partial ownership and the required use of affiliated printers, suppliers, and advertising representatives. This deal gave the distributor final control and maximum profit.
Three young editors who accepted such a deal were Aaron A. Wyn, Ned L. Pines, 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."
By 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 in October 1930, after which Paul Sampliner continued to run Eastern Distributing as president and majority owner.
Aaron A. Wyn, Ned L. Pines, and Harold Hersey all preferred to leave Eastern Distributing and follow Warren Angel to Kable News. To handle those accounts, as well as to offer a similar deal to other aspirant publishers, Warren Angel and Samuel Campbell formed C&A (Campbell & Angel) Publishing Company.
On September 13, 1930 Louis Silberkleit's father, Israel Silberkleit, died at the age of sixty-three in NYC.
On September 3, 1931 Louis Silberkleit's oldest sister, Henrietta Silberkleit, married George Hopp.
In 1931 Moe L. Annenberg and Hearst Publications arranged the financing for Bernarr Macfadden to buy Liberty Magazine, which increased his total periodical production to the second largest in the world, exceeded only by Curtis Publications of Philadelphia. At that same time Art Color Printing Company of Dunellen, New Jersey, was bought by the W. F. Hall Printing Company of Chicago, whose President, Albert Geiger, was a business affiliate of Moe L. Annenberg and was also a member of the Hearst Executive Council. W. F. Hall's Vice President, Ernest O. Machlin, was a Member of the Board of Directors of Macfadden Publications. Most of Bernarr Macfadden's 400,000,000 annual periodicals were printed at the Dunellen plant of Art Color Printing, along with the periodicals of Hugo Gernsback and other publishers handled by Eastern Distributing.
On April 27, 1932 Michael Ivan Silberkleit, the son of Lillian and Louis Silberkleit, was born in NYC.
On September 10, 1932 The New York Times reported a bankruptcy petition had been filed against Eastern Distributing Corporation by the Isaac Goldman Printing Company, Frank G. Menke (a syndicated sports columnist), and New Broad Publishing, which was owned by Theodore Epstein.
By 1932 Kable News handled distribution of several periodicals associated with Hugo Gernsback.
On October 9, 1932 The New York Times reported a new incorporated business, Mutual Magazine Distributors, which was formed by Louis Silberkleit and Martin Goodman at 73 Murray Street. That was the uptown side entrance to 60 West Broadway. The downtown side entrance to that same building was 93-99 Park Place. Each of these addresses was associated with a different publishing company owned by Louis Silberkleit. Oddly enough, another newly incorporated business, Pictorial Distributors, was also listed that same day by Abner Germann at 222 East 39th Street. That was the same address as Pictorial Review Magazine, which was owned by Hearst Publications. Abner Germann was the Office Manager at Macfadden Publications. Only a few months earlier, the July 1932 issue of Author & Journalist had reported that Teck Publications had moved from 350 Hudson Street to 222 West 39th Street.
Mutual Magazine Distributors followed the same approach to business as Paul Sampliner, Warren Angel, and Irving Manheimer. Their major client was George Shade of the Shade Printing Company of Philadelphia, who was a business partner of Moe L. Annenberg, Theodore Epstein, Harry Donenfeld, Frank Armer, and Paul Sampliner. They also offered operating credit to aspirant magazine publishers. Arthur Bernhard (1913-1999) started the Jalart Publishing House on credit from Mutual Magazine Distributors.
At that same time Louis Silberkleit and Martin Goodmen also formed Newstand Publishers at 60 Murray Street. Their first joint publication was October 1933 Complete Western Book Magazine.
In 1933 Louis Silberkleit is listed in the NYC Telephone Directory as a Sales Manager living at 1812 East 18th Street in Brooklyn.
In June of 1934 Louis Silberkleit received an undergraduate LL.B. bachelor degree in Law from New York Law School at 253 Broadway, near City Hall.
On September 1, 1934 the New York County Court filed a judgment against Louis H. Silberkleit to pay $5,057.43 to Neo Gravure Printing Company. Neo Gravure was the New York affiliate of Chicago's Cuneo Press, which printed mass-market magazines for Hearst Publications. Despite the legal weight of this court decision, the debt remained unpaid for several years until March 21, 1939.
On April 17, 1935 The New York Times reported a petition of bankruptcy had been field against Mutual Magazine Distributors.
On May 11 1935 The New York Times reported the schedule of repayment had been filed and the three top creditors were Trojan Publications, which was owned by Paul Sampliner in partnership with Harry Donenfeld, Clancy Publications, which produced astrology magazines, and News
tand Publications, which was owned by Louis Silberkleit in partnership with Martin Goodman.
The NY State Court later assigned five receivers to handle the scheduled repayment of debt, Ernest O. Machlin (V.P. of F. W. Hall Printing and Member of the Board of Directors at Macfadden Publications), James F. Walsh (a printer of publicity photos for The New York Graphic, a newspaper owned by Macfadden Publications), George R. Shade (Owner of Shade Publications of Philadelphia), Frederick H. Hemgen (a salesman at Tab Press, which was owned by Theodore Epstein), and Arthur W. Laing (a sales representative of a novelty manufacturer with mail order advertisements in the back pages of magazines).
In 1934 Louis Silberkleit formed Winford Publications with John L. Goldwater (1906-1999).
John Leonard Goldwater was born Max Leonard Goldwasser on February 14, 1906 in NYC. His father, David Goldwasser, was born in 1863 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His mother, Ida Goldwasser, was born in 1870 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His parents married in 1888 and in 1890 they had a son, Herman Goldwasser. In 1891 the family came and came to America and settled in NYC, where the father worked as a tailor. They lived at 144 Monroe Street in the immigrant ghetto of Lower East Side. His parents then had three more children, Jacob (b.1900), Dorothy (b.1902), and Max (b.1906). By 1910 the family had moved to 71 Forsyth Street and the oldest son Herman Goldwasser, age twenty, was employed at a printing company, while the mother was pregnant with her fifth child. Sadly, the mother died. After this tragic death the impoverished and despondent father died on February 10, 1911. His three youngest children were sent to a Jewish Orphan Asylum. After three months Max Goldwasser was adopted by a foster mother, Rose Ettinger, who was born in 1868 in Roumania and came to America in 1892. She was divorced and lived with her grown son, Edward Ettinger (b.1891), who worked as a Civil Engineer. The family lived at 228 West 116th Street, which is directly beside Columbia University. The orderly green lawns of the campus, with neo-classical statues and shady trees, must have seemed like the Elysian Fields compared to the squalor of the Lower East Side. To grow up in a loving foster home beside this pastoral campus might later bring sentimental significance to the name "Columbia." On April 11, 1927 at the age of twenty-one, Max Goldwasser married Myrtle Schwager in Manhattan. She was born in Chicago in 1906. Her father was a Circulation Manager of The Daily Mirror, which was owned by Moe L. Annenberg of Hearst Publications. Before the marriage Max Goldwasser changed his name to John Leonard Goldwater. After the marriage his Father-In-Law got him a job in the Circulation Department at The Daily Mirror, where he met Moe L. Annenberg, Theodore Epstein, Paul Sampliner, and Louis Silberkleit.
In 1934 Winford produced Double Action Western, Real Western, Mystery Novels and Underworld Detective.
An early Ownership Statement from the company identified the owner as Samuel Dinerman, although he was in fact a corporate attorney. A NYC Business Directory listed Samuel Dinerman as a lawyer with an office at 60 Hudson Street and the telephone number was BA7-7698. That same directory listed Louis Silberkleit as a publisher at the same address with the same telephone number. For the next twenty years the business address and telephone number of both men remained the same, which indicates the lawyer was the publisher's corporate counselor. Samuel Dinerman was born in NYC on May 6, 1901 and in 1925 was married and became a member of the NY Bar Association.
The Business Manager was listed as Maurice Coyne (1901-1971), who was also a Notary Public, CPA and tax accountant.
Maurice Coyne was born Morris Cohen on September 15, 1901 in the Bronx. His father, David Cohen, was born in 1871 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His mother, Rebecca Cohen, was born in 1876 in Russia of Jewish ancestry. His parents came to America in 1888 and married and had five children, Max (b.1895), Samuel (b.1898), Morris (b.1901), Philip (b.1903), and Harris (b.1905). The family lived at 3455 Knox Place in the Bronx. The father worked as a Supplier of Peddlers. In 1918 Morris Cohen graduated high school in the Bronx and in 1924 he graduated from college, where he studied accountancy. After graduation he went to work as an accountant and was soon operating his own practice with an office near City Hall in Lower Manhattan at 147 Nassau Street. He listed the business under the name Maurice Coyne. On January 31, 1929 his father died at the age of fifty-eight in the Bronx. Maurice Coyne lived at home with his elderly mother for many years but eventually married his wife was Ruth Coyne.
A later Ownership Statement listed the owner as Harold Hammond (1909-1974). His area of expertise was Advertising Representative. Along with John Goldwater, Maurice Coyne, and Samuel Dinerman, Harold Hammond also remained a close associate of Louis Silberkleit for the rest of his life.
In November of 1935 Louis Silberkleit hired Abner Sundell as Editor of Double Action Magazines. He had sold several western short stories under the pen name Cliff Campbell, so at first the new editor was listed as Cliff Campbell.
The contents page of the June 1936 issue of Complete Northwest Novel Magazine listed the Editor as "Michael Ivan." The publisher's infant son, Michael Ivan Silberkleit was four years old at that time.
Along with Winford Publications, Louis Silberkleit also formed Chesterfield Publications, Northwest Publishing, Blue Ribbon Magazines, Columbia Publications, and Double Action Magazines. These companies were located at deceptive addresses within the same vicinity of City Hall, on Park Place, West Broadway, Murray, Franklin, and Hudson Streets. The May 1937 issue of Writer's Digest had an editorial expressing relief that Louis Silberkleit had finally simplified matters by listing all his companies as Double-Action Magazines with one mailing address at 60 Hudson Street.
In 1938 Abner Sundell also ran an independent business that brokered magazine illustrations to publishers affiliated with Louis Silberkleit. The NYC Business Directory listed " Abner J. Sundell Artist Service" at 60 Hudson Street, which was the same address of Winford Publications. He handled work by most of the artists that regularly worked for Winford Publications, such as A. Leslie Ross, J. W. Scott, Milton Luros, Richard Case, Sam Cooper, Howard Sherman, Roy Harrison, George Gross and his brother Arthur Gross.
The June 1938 issue of Writer's Digest reported "Abner Sundell, who also uses the name Cliff Campbell, is editor of the Blue Ribbon Group, of which Louis Silberkleit is publisher."
In 1938 Abner Sundell began to edit Louis Silberkleit's growing line of comic books, Pep Comics, Blue Ribbon Comics, Top Notch Comics, Jackpot Comics, and Zip Comics. He hired Harry Shorten, a 1937 graduate of NYU, as Editorial Assistant. He also hired Charles Biro, who wrote and drew some of the most distinctive features that appeared in these comics.
In 1940 Louis Silberkleit and his wife and son lived in a luxurious apartment building at 45 Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn.
Towards the end of Abner Sundell's tenure as Managing Editor he hired Victor Boni Bloom (1908-1983), a former classmate from NYU and top humor editor at Dell Publications, to write the three earliest appearances of Archie Andrews, the first of which appeared in Pep Comics #22 of December 1941 credited to "Bob Montana and Vic Bloom."
In 1941 Abner Sundell left Silberkleit's publishing empire and was replaced by Robert W. Lowndes. For the previous six years Louis Silberkleit had promoted the reputation of Cliff Campbell into an invested property that remained with the publisher as a house name after the departure of Abner Sundell.
The May 1941 issue of Close-Up Magazine featured pin-ups, gags and cartoons. It was one of many Hollywood fanzines that imitated Film Fun from Dell. Six months after the first issue Billboard gave the magazine a critical review. Close-Up appeared bi-monthly for three years until it ceased publication, but after that Louis Silberkleit continued to publish other periodicals as "Close-Up Inc.," such as Sleek Magazine, which featured pin-ups with gags and cartoons for men.
On August 31, 1941 Louis Silberkleit's older brother, Jacob Silberkleit, died in NYC at the age of forty-six.
In 1941 M. L. J. Magazines was formed. The name was derived from the initials of the first names of Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John Goldwater.
In the Winter of 1942, one year after Archie's first appearance, M. L. J. Magazines produced the first Archie Comics. In recognition of Archie's popularity the artist Milton Luros was commissioned to paint a life-sized portrait of Archie for the company's executive offices. The three partners posed for a publicity photo sitting beneath the painting in the correct order of their names for M. L. J. Magazines.
No records of military service during WWII have been found for publisher Louis Silberkleit, co-publisher John Goldwater, accountant Maurice Coyne, business counsel Samuel Dinerman, or advertising representative Harold Hammond.
On July 2, 1942 The Washington Post reported that Close-Up Inc. of NYC had discontinued publication of Sleek Magazine after it had been barred from U.S. Mail distribution by the Postmaster General.
In 1942 the Federal Trade Commission reported a legal decision concerning Columbia Publications, whose owners were identified as "Louis H. Silberkleit and Harold Hammond."
Several famous comic strips became popular radio shows, such as Superman, Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon. By 1943 Archie was famous enough to be marketed as the star of his own radio show.
In 1948 Harry Shorten and Bill Fagaly produced a popular syndicated comic strip for the McClure Newspaper Syndicate, There Oughta Be A Law, which depended on readers to submit real-life accounts of zany legal experiences.
In 1950 Louis and Lillian Silberkleit lived in Manhattan at 860 Fifth Avenue.
In 1954 his mother, Julia Silberkleit, died at the age of eighty-six.
By 1960 Louis Silberkleit continued to produce pulp magazines long after the genre had grown out of fashion. Among his last digest-sized pulps were Famous Western and Science Fiction Quarterly.
In April 23, 1970 his wife Lillian Silberkleit died at the age of sixty-seven.
On May 9, 1971 Maurice Coyne died age the age of sixty-nine in NYC.
In 1972 Louis Silberkleit married his second wife, Nicole Bernheim, a talented magazine journalist.
According to the artist Robert Fujitani, "Louis Silberkleit considered himself a big businessman in a chauffeur driven Cadillac. If he had something to say he said it to his editors, and they told us. He never stooped so low as to talk with the artists. He would fling open the front door and walk across the room under a full head of steam, straight to his office, which was really just a tiny room with a desk. He had a cigar in his mouth and wore a big fancy camel hair coat. We called it a "polo coat" in those days. He would whisk down the aisle between our drawing tables and slam the door of his office for dramatic effect. While all of our wind-swept papers floated around the room and settled back down, we artists were literally left in his wake!"
Louis H. Silberkleit died at the age of eighty-five on February 21, 1986.
His business partner, John L. Goldwater, died at the age of ninety-three in NYC on November 26, 1999.
© David Saunders 2014