Hans Conried and Jewish Baltimore?

Posted on April 29th, 2013 by

MarvinA blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinket.

Last weekend I was listening to an episode of “The Life of Riley” on classic radio (as though I needed to establish my credentials as a nerd).  At the close of the episode the announcer declared “And that episode featured the voice of Hans Conried who was born on April 15th in Baltimore in 1917″.

Now this sparked at least a little curiosity.  Was Hans Conried an overlooked persona in the history chronicled by the Jewish Museum of Maryland?

Hans Conried. Via.

Hans Conried. Via.

First I need to explain to the part of the audience that did not grow up in the golden age of television (or radio) exactly who Hans Conried is.  Mr. Conreid was an actor on stage, on radio and TV, who had one of the most distinctive voices in any medium.  If you’ve seen old cartoons you may recognize him as the voice of Captain Hook, Snidely Whiplash and the scary voice of the Magic Mirror on Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.  Your parents would chuckle at his narration in something called Fractured Flickers… a distant ancestor of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Though Conried was as likely to play a British aristocrat as he was an ethnic character – his continuing roles as the ne’er-do-well Professor Kropotkin on “My Friend Irma” on radio and as Uncle Tanoose on the Danny Thomas Show on television had left me with the impression that he might have a Jewish connection.

So the search began.  The easy part was finding confirmation that Hans Georg Conried  Jr. was indeed born in Baltimore (Maryland General Hospital) and that he was the son of Hans Georg Conried Sr. (an Austrian Jew) and Edith Beyr Gildersleeve (a descendant of pilgrims).  I suppose I’m not the only one who finds Edith’s maiden name ironic for someone whose son would make his career in radio.  Wikipedia went on to assure me that Hans Conried was “raised” in Baltimore and New York.

It seemed like it was time to go deeper.  Who was Conried’s father and what brought him to Baltimore?  My next stop was a recent biography of the actor written by Suzanne Gargiulo in 2002.  Gargiulo reveals that the name “Conried” was a late 19th century invention and that as late as the 1850s, the family’s name was either “Cohn” or “Cohen”.  The family business in Austria was textiles but the younger generation of Conried’s was of more theatrical bent.  Uncle Heinrich, a professional actor, comes to the US in 1878, develops into an opera impresario and takes over the Met just in time to introduce Enrico Caruso to America.  Hans Sr. comes to the US in 1903, lives with his uncle in New York and enters the theatrical publishing business.  In nearby Bridgeport, CT he courts and marries Edith.

But what about Baltimore?

Maryland General. Via.

Maryland General. Via.

Well it turns out that there was a lot of travel in theatrical publishing and that Edith sometimes accompanied Hans Sr. on his journeys.  In 1917 this included a trip to Baltimore when she was nine months pregnant.  As life would have it, this decision leads to a frantic search for a hospital and Hans Jr.’s birth at Maryland General.  The family stayed on in the city for a short period to give Edith a chance to recover but that summer returned to New York.  In a 1967 interview Hans Conried is reported to have responded to a question about whether he was truly a native son of Baltimore.  He answered “Born in Baltimore – but left as a babe of six weeks.  So they can’t claim me.  Claim me?  They don’t even want me.  I’ve never been back, and I’ve heard no public outcry to have me return and put my feet in cement…”

Hans Conried passed away in January 1982.  I guess we’ll have to put a hold on the wet cement.

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The voyage of a fish

Posted on October 17th, 2012 by

A blog post by Program Manager Rachel Cylus.

Gefilte Fish is rarely served for breakfast.  Some might even say, nine o’clock in the morning is too early for fish in general.  But, on Monday, October 15, the radio personalities at 98 Rock’s morning show – Mickey, Amelia and Spiegel, broke with convention to give the Jewish Museum of Maryland a few minutes to talk about our upcoming program, GefilteFest – Sunday, October 21st from 10-5, and to taste the trademark Gefilte fish loaf from Gefilteria.  This Brooklyn-based Jewish Food startup (Gefilteria.com) will be featured at Sunday’s event, when Chief Gefiltemonger, Liz Alpern (whose grandmother resides in Baltimore), competes against Four Seasons first cook, Dave Whaley, and local Baltimore mom, Susan Silbiger, for the honor of being crowned Baltimore’s Gefilte Maven.  The “throwdown” will take place at the JMM at 2pm.  Be there.

But back to the radio.  How exactly did this fish make it to TV Hill in Baltimore?  It was quite a journey.  The story began Thursday morning, when with Rochelle Eisenberg, Public Relations Associate at the Associated, called the JMM with great news.  98 Rock was interested in talking about GefilteFest on Monday morning on the air!  Susan Press, CFO at the JMM (and alter ego of chef, Susan Silbiger…) was excited.  But there were some challenges to overcome.  How to get a fresh loaf of Gefilte Fish from Gefilteria, in Brooklyn, NY to Baltimore in time for the show.  It wouldn’t be easy.  The thought of shipping fish overnight sounded, well, rotten.

It was time for Susan to call upon her intricate web of relatives and friends who might be making the trip between Baltimore and NYC that weekend and see who might be a willing gefilte courier.  Her sister!  Susan’s sister was heading to NYC on a shopping trip that weekend.  The fish would be sent to Susan’s parents’ home Sunday afternoon and transported back to Baltimore in her sister’s car that night.  Simple.  At 9pm Susan called her sister to inquire about the shopping trip.  As an afterthought she mentioned the gefilte.

“Oh, I forgot it,” she said.  “But, don’t worry.  My daughter can bring it tomorrow night,” she explained.

Susan began to hyperventilate.  Monday night was too late!  The fish had to be in Baltimore by 8am the next morning.   Then her sister remembered, a niece and her fiancé were at a wedding in Brooklyn.  The niece’s future in-laws would be returning to Baltimore on a bus that night.  The bus left New York at 10pm.  It was already nearly 9:30!

A few phone calls later, Susan’s mother was dressed and headed to the wedding in search of the niece.  It was 9:50pm, and despite searching the hall and phone calls, Susan’s niece was nowhere to be found.  Finally Susan called the niece’s fiancé, who assured her that with only ten minutes to spare, they would get that fish on that bus.  The fiancé found the niece.  The niece found Susan’s mother who passed off the fish.  The niece passed the fish to her future brother-in-law.  The future brother-in-law passed the fish to his mother-in-law.  The mother-in-law took the fish on the bus and returned to Baltimore.  At 7am the next morning, Susan’s niece’s future mother-in-law passed the gefilte to Susan, who gave it to her husband, who waited, patiently, and then anxiously, for me (Rachel Cylus, program manager at the JMM) to pick up the fish for the show.

So here is where I enter the story.  I have never been punctual.  Least of all at 8am in the morning.  And I sure could have used a car mezuzah on that Monday morning (car mezuzahs are available for purchase at the JMM gift shop – they make great gifts).  But alas I had only a GPS, and not a very accurate one at that.  I was running on a tight schedule to make my 8:15 appointment with 98 Rock, and I drove right past Susan’s house.  Her husband, on the lookout to successfully hand off this gefilte fish, ran after my car, fish in arms, ready to hand off the loaf like a quarterback looking for a running back (I think that might be as far as I can take this football allusion). I barely stopped my engine as the fish soared into my hands, and I continued on my way.  Touchdown!!! I made it to the station in time (ok, now I promise the poorly used football references are actually over).

As I stood over the sink at the radio station, slicing the gefilte and artfully painting it with carrot and beet horseradish (as per the instructions of Liz Alpern), I was barely prepared for one of Baltimore’s sillier morning shows.  I walked in, Gefilte plated and in hand to be served to the three personalities, and the jokes began.  I won’t begin to tell you the merciless teasing that Liz Alpern (who was telephoned) and I underwent on that radio show – since I am pretty sure it is archived at http:///www.98online.com/shows/MAS.  Listen at your own risk!  But the highlights are this: Gefilte fish was a hit (even at 9 in the morning), Liz and I successfully dodged lots of awkward questions from the hosts, and I even got in a plug for my favorite Jewish War of 1812 veteran, Mendes Cohen ( he is awesome, seriously).   But most importantly, now everyone in the world (ok, anyone who listened to 98 Rock on Monday morning), knows about the JMM and GefilteFest.  And now you, dear blog reader, know too.  So take your own Gefilte Fish voyage to the JMM this Sunday, from 10-5 and have a whole lot of fun.

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MS 132 and MS 182

Posted on October 27th, 2011 by

Two for the price of one!  The following post has two related collections: MS 132 and MS 182 both of which contain materials related the Joseph M. Zamoiski Co. and the Zamoiski family.

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Calman J. Zamoiski (1896-c. 1970),

Papers, n.d., 1918-1972

Joseph M. Zamoiski Co.

Papers, n.d., 1919-1972

MS 132

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

This collection of documents and letters concerning Calman J. Zamoiski, his family and the Joseph M. Zamoiski Co. was donated in two parts.   Letters and papers relating to Mr.Zamoiski’s service in World War I were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Mr. and Mrs. James L. Zamoiski in 1990 as accession 1990.57.  Additional personal papers were donated by Ernestine K. Wiesenfeld in 1988 as accession 1988.51.  Documents relating to the Joseph M. Zamoiski Co., its founder, Joseph M. Zamoiski, Sr., and company executives, were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by the Zamoiski Company in 1987 as accession 1987.065. Myrna Siegel processed the collection in December 2003.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL NOTE

Calman J. Zamoiski, Sr. (1896 – circa 1970) was born inBaltimoreto Joseph M. and Tena Zamoiski.  The elder Zamoiski established Joseph M. Zamoiski Co. as an electrical supply and construction business.  Calman, Sr. worked in the business until his service in World War I.  After the War he returned to the business and became interested in radio.  The Zamoiski Company began stocking radio parts and Calman, Sr. received a radio operator’s license in 1921.  In that same year, he establishedBaltimore’s first commercial radio station (WKC) in a room in his home at2527 Madison Avenue.  The station ceased broadcasting in 1924.  About the time of Joseph’s death in 1927, Calman, Sr. took over as head of the family business.  He ran the business until at least 1956, when his son, Calman, Jr., succeeded him.

Nathan Ullman, a long-time employee at the Joseph Zamoiski Company. 1987.065.10

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Zamoiski papers contain memorabilia of Calman Sr.’s service in the U.S. Army during World War I.  There are letters from family and friends, diaries, and other souvenirs of his war service inFrance.  There are also copies of his radio operator’s license as well as articles describing his foray into broadcasting.  Also included are memorial tributes to Calman, Sr.’s mother and father, Joseph and Tena who died in 1927 and 1952, respectively.

The Zamoiski Company papers consist of information about products sold by the Company, Company advertising and sales brochures, and the Company’s annual convention booklets.  There is also some documentation of Calman Sr.’s involvement in other business ventures including a patent application of M.W. Askin and service by Calman Sr.’s brother, Joseph M. Zamoiski, to the Big Brothers of the National Capital Region.

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The collection has been organized into three series:  Series I.  Personal Papers, n.d., 1903-1972; Series II.  Zamoiski Company Papers, n.d., 1932-1972; and Series III. Photographs, n.d., 1952-1956.  Material in Series I. and Series II. is arranged alphabetically by the name of the person or business creating or receiving the material, and then chronologically within each name.  Series III is arranged alphabetically.

employees of the Joseph M. Zamoiski Company in front of the company building. 1987.65.27

The Joseph M. Zamoiski Co.

Minute Book Collection

1909-1975

MS 182

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The Joseph M. Zamoiski Co. Minute Book Collection was donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 2007 as accession 2007.072 by the Zamoiski family. The collection was processed by Jennifer Vess in February 2010

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

Zamoiski company meeting minutes. 2007.72.1

HISTORICAL NOTE

Joseph M. Zamoiski established the Joseph M. Zamoiski Co. as an electrical supply company in 1896.  In the early years the company distributed batteries, lighting fixtures and accessories, and also participated in electrical contracting.  The original building burnt down in the 1904Baltimorefire, but continued to operate in temporary quarters.  The Joseph M. Zamoiski Company incorporated in 1909.  In the 1920s the company added radios and phonographs to their stock and continued to expand the variety of products over the decades to include, among other things, home appliances, and televisions.  By the 1970s the company had multiple product divisions with warehouses inBaltimore,MDandWashington,D.C.and its own fleet of delivery trucks.

From 1946 meeting minutes book. 2007.72.1

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The collection contains six minutes books ranging in years from 1909-1974 and two additional books containing articles of incorporation and meeting minutes for the Joseph M. Zamoiski Co. and the Gigi and Cal Zamoiski Foundation, Inc.  The papers are generally organized chronologically and contain Board of Directors and Stockholders meeting minutes as well as by-laws from various years.

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