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1925-03-31 The Daily News
1930-05 Screen Book
1926-12 Pictorial Review
1930-11 Complete Det.
1927-06 Ghost Stories
1932-08 Amazing Stories
1928-08-11 NY Graphic
1932-10 Woman's World
1929-06 Phys. Culture
1933-11-18 Liberty
1930-01 Radio News
1935-11 Wild West Novel









































Emmett Lee Ellmaker was born August 7, 1896 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His father, Alfred Ellmaker, was born in 1868 in PA. His mother, Mary Emma Hess, was born in 1867 in PA. His parents married in 1890, and he was their only child. The family lived at 1674 Willow Street in Philadelphia. The father was a packer for the Pennsylvania Rail Road.

By 1910 the family had moved to 5318 Thompson Street in Philadelphia, and the father was promoted to a clerk at Penn R.R.

In June of 1910 Emmett Lee Ellmaker (age thirteen) completed the 8th grade of public school, after which he entered the work force as a newsboy. In 1912 he began to work as a cub reporter. In 1915 (age eighteen) he covered the Pennsylvania State Legislature in Harrisburg, PA, for The Philadelphia Press.

On February 1, 1916 The Harrisburg Telegraph reported "Lee Ellmaker, political writer of The Philadelphia Press, has resigned to become the secretary to Congressman Vare." William Scott Vare (1867-1934) was one of three Vare brothers who controlled Philadelphia's political system. They handled all government contracts and job appointments. They used brutal tactics to enforce control, which siphoned millions from the city budget. The "Vare Machine" of Philadelphia was comparable to the infamous Tammany Hall gang of NYC.

During the 1916 election of local ward captains, the Vare mob imported fifty armed thugs from NYC to strong-arm and blackjack political supporters of opposition candidates. Before the election night violence, Lee Ellmaker visited the wards to encourage the crowds. After a police officer, who was defending an opposition candidate, was shot dead, Lee Ellmaker was subpoenaed to testify before a court inquiry, but denied having acted as a paid spokesman of William S. Vare, and instead claimed to have only spoken his personal opinions, for which he accepted full responsibility. No charges were filed.

One Philadelphia publisher who thrived under the Vare party machine was Harvey K. Fly, who would later become a business associate of Lee Ellmaker.

On June 5, 1917, during the Great War, Lee Ellmaker reported for draft registration. He was recorded at the time to have been age twenty, short, stout, with gray eyes and light brown hair. He listed his employer as William S. Vare at 2304 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. According to his hometown newspaper, "Lee Ellmaker enlisted in the Navy as an apprentice seaman in the radio service. He was busy yesterday explaining how he did it, and only satisfied his curious friends when he made it known that the surgeon general had granted him a waiver on weight, which is above the figure set by regulations."

Lee Ellmaker served in the U.S. Navy Reserve Force in the Radio Station at the Headquarters of the 4th Naval District, Philadelphia, from August 1, 1918 to November 11, 1918. He did not serve overseas. He was released from duty on December 20, 1918. After his discharge he resumed his career as the private secretary to William S. Vare, who at that time was serving his second term in the Congressional House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

In 1920 Lee Ellmaker became a Washington correspondent for International News Service. He lived in a rooming house at 150 12th Street North East in Washington, D.C.

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 December 15, 1921 Lee Ellmaker married Mary Myrtle Wolfe, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. She was born in 1893 in Virginia. They had two sons, Lee Ellmaker, Jr. (b.1922), and William Ellmaker (b.1925).

In 1923 Lee Ellmaker organized the National City Bureau, a public relations firm that served the lobbying interests of wealthy investors, which included William Randolph Hearst, Arthur Brisbane, and Moe L. Annenberg.

During the "roaring twenties" organized crime acquired control of the nationwide system of distribution, trucking, warehousing, and labor unions. The American News Company (ANC) was the most powerful force in publishing. It was controlled by organized crime, but it was headed by William Randolphh Hearst, Arthur Brisbane, and Moe L. Annenberg. To avoid prosecution for anti-trust laws, ANC delegated various affiliates, such as Lee Ellmaker, Paul Sampliner, Irving S. Manheimer, Warren Angel, and Theodore Epstein, to operate as independent publishers, although the lifeblood of their operating credit came from ANC.

In 1924 Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel formed Eastern Distributing Corporation located at 45 West 45th Street in NYC. They handled newsstand distribution of cigars, candy, and magazines. Along with these conventional duties, Eastern Distributing also offered publishers credit for operating funds in exchange for control of related services, such as printing, paper supplies, engraving plates, trucking, warehousing, and overseas sales. All of these services were provided by affiliated subcontractors, who gave discounted prices for massive orders. This risky approach to business reflected the reckless ambition of the roaring twenties, which brought such brave entrepreneurs into association with powerful industrialists, syndicates, labor unions, and gangsters.

In 1924 Lee Ellmaker left Washington and accompanied William S. Vare to Philadelphia to found The Philadelphia Daily News, the city's first and only successful tabloid newspaper. They entered the newspaper publishing business to advance Vare's political prospects as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. According to The Harrisburg (PA) Evening News, "Lee Ellmaker is back in Philadelphia assisting in the preparations now under way for what is intended as the official mouthpiece for the Vare organization."

In 1925 William S. Vare won election to the U.S. Senate, however the extent of fraud and corruption in his campaign was impossible to ignore. According to the losing candidate, W. B. Wilson, “Vare controls the Philadelphia Republican machine. The November senatorial election was a grotesque and fantastic travesty, which included padded registration lists, phantom voters who were actually dead or imaginary, criminal misuse of campaign funds, and violent voter intimidation.” The Senate preserved the ballots to conduct its own investigation, which resulted in an historic vote (58 to 22) that denied a seat to Senator-elect Vare. After this humiliating defeat, he sold his interest in the newspaper and devoted his attention to legal appeals, which ended unsuccessfully four years later.

On January 1, 1926 controlling interest in The Philadelphia Daily News was acquired by Macfadden Publications. After this reorganization, Lee Ellmaker continued as vice president and general manager. At that same time he was also appointed to the senior management of The Detroit Daily News, The New York Graphic, and Liberty Magazine, all of which were acquired for Macfadden Publications by a group of wealthy New York and Chicago investors, which included William Randolph Hearst, Arthur Brisbane, and Moe L. Annenberg.

In 1927 Lee Ellmaker was promoted to Executive Vice President and General Manager of Macfadden Publications at 1926 Broadway in NYC.

By 1928 Eastern Distributing handled the many publications of Hugo Gernsback, an innovative publisher with significant unpaid debts. On February 21, 1929 Gernsback was legally forced to declare bankruptcy. During subsequent negotiations he accepted the offer of credit in exchange for control, after which Irving S. Manheimer became his Business Manager, and B. A. MacKinnon became his Circulation Manager.

During the 1920s most of the expense for advertising mass market products was paid to publishers of magazines and newspapers, so by 1928 those wealthy publishers were alarmed by the growing popularity of radio programs, which also sold advertising. Most of the biggest publishers began to buy radio stations in an effort to retain control of nationwide advertising.

When Hugo Gernsback lost control of his business, William Randolph Hearst ordered the publisher of The New York Evening Journal to bid up to $100,000 for Gernsback's radio station, WRNY.

Hearst Radio owned broadcasting stations WINS (NYC), WCAE and WSWS (Pittsburgh), WBAL (Baltimore), WISN (Milwaukee), KYA (San Francisco), KELW (Burbank), KEHE (Los Angeles). For use of the most desirable wave-lengths, Hearst sent lobbyists to the Federal Radio Commission in Washington.

Moe L. Annenberg owned Radio Guide, which was in competition with Radio News, published by Hugo Gernsback, but after his company's reorganization, Lee Ellmaker became the publisher of Radio News.

Besides radio magazines, the reorganization of Gernsback enterprises also included other divisions, such as How-To books, humor magazines, science fiction magazines, two radio stations, and mail-order businesses for radio parts, novelties, and pharmaceuticals. The Gernsback enterprise was split into several independent companies, whose names included Stellar Publications, MacKinnon & Fly Publications, Forward Publications, Experimenter Publications, Modern Publications, and Grenpark Novelties. The executive officers of these various companies included Hugo Gernsback, Bernarr Macfadden, Lee Ellmaker, B. A. MacKinnon, Harvey K. Fly, William M. Clayton, Theodore Epstein, Harry Donenfeld, Frank Armer, and Harold Hersey, while the production and distribution was handled by Eastern Distributing.

During the 1930s, Irving S. Manheimer joined the Board of Directors of Macfadden Publications, and gradually acquired majority control until he replaced Bernarr Macfadden as president and forced him to retire from publishing.

In 1930 Lee Ellmaker took over control of The Philadelphia Daily News from Macfadden Publications.

In 1930 Mr. & Mrs. Ellmaker and their two sons lived in Philadelphia at 2082 63rd Street. His job was identified as “Newspaper Editor.”

In 1931 Lee Ellmaker joined the senior management at The New York Evening Graphic, where the managing editor was the colorful Emile H. Gauvreau (1891-1956).

On April 12, 1931 The New York Times reported the new incorporation of Archer Press. The first publication of this company was Complete Movie Novel Magazine, which listed B. A. MacKinnon and H. K. Fly as secretary and treasurer. The magazine cover showed Marlene Dietrich. That same year, the same image also appeared on "Madame-X" by Alexandrine Bisson from Archer Press, and distributed by Triangle Monthly Books, a subsidiary of Doubleday, that was owned by Moe L. Annenberg.

On January 5, 1932 nationwide newspapers reported Lee Ellmaker had purchased the Pictorial Review from the publisher, William P. Ahnelt, after which B. A. MacKinnon became Circulation Manager and a member the Board of Directors.

On May 20, 1932 The New York Times reported the new incorporation of Teck Publications by Abner Germann (1896-1976), Office Manager at Macfadden Publications. Teck took over production from MacKinnon & Fly of Amazing Stories, Amazing Stories Quarterly, Radio News, Complete Detective Novel Magazine, and Wild West Stories & Complete Novel Magazine. The executive offices of Teck were located at 222 West 39th Street, which is the Pictorial Review Building in NYC.

In 1932 Time Magazine reported, "Last week big, plump Lee Ellmaker walked into the barn-like plant of Woman's World on Chicago's West Side, went upstairs, and signed a paper. When he walked out of the building he owned Woman's World.

On July 1, 1932 The New York Times reported that Bernarr Macfadden had filed for bankruptcy of his newspaper interests.

On August 7, 1934 William S. Vare died at the age of sixty-six in Philadelphia.

In 1934 Lee Ellmaker sold Pictorial Review to William Randolph Hearst. Two years later it was merged with The Delineator, another popular woman's magazine. The combined circulation of the two magazines was over three million copies. The only other magazines to reach such popularity were Liberty and Saturday Evening Post. In 1939 Hearst abruptly ceased publication of the Pictorial Review. It remains one of the largest and most mysterious collapses in the history of Publishing.

On August 11, 1939 the same District Attorney and Federal Judge who had historically convicted Al Capone of tax evasion, brought similar charges against Moe L. Annenberg. On April 20, 1940 he was convicted 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.

On October 14, 1940 The Times Recorder of Zanesville, Ohio reported that Lee Ellmaker, of Philadelphia, had filed a voluntary petition of bankruptcy for Woman's World Publishing Company at 461 Eighth Avenue. The monthly magazine, with a circulation of 1,500,000, listed its liabilities at $614,730. Lee Ellmaker, the sole stockholder, said that its only cash was $2.99 on hand and $132.95 on deposit. The printer was Kable Brothers of Mount Morris, IL, which was co-owned by Warren Angel.

The Ellmaker family lived at 37 Green Hill Lane in Lower Merion, PA.

On April 27, 1942, during WWII, Lee Ellmaker registered with the selective service as required by law. He was recorded to have been forty-five, five-eleven, 175 pounds, with hazel eyes, black hair, and sallow complexion. He listed his employer as The Philadelphia Daily News.

While Moe L. Annenberg served his three-year sentence in Lewisburg Pennsylvania State Prison, his health declined to a critical extent, until doctors urged his early release for medical treatment on June 3, 1942. He traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis for an emergency brain operation. While recuperating from surgery, he died at the age of sixty-five on July 20, 1942.

In 1948 Lee Ellmaker retired from The Philadelphia Daily News.

On January 21, 1949 Warren Angel died of a heart attack at age sixty-two in NYC.

In 1950 Lee Ellmaker served on the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as a public commissioner to improve public relations, sanitation and clean water.

In 1951 William Randolph Hearst died at the age of eighty-eight. Four years later Bernarr Macfadden died at the age of eighty-seven.

Lee Ellmaker died of heart failure at the age of fifty-four, at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia on March 27, 1951.

                               © David Saunders 2017

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