Saturday, December 3, 2022

Francis Wolff, Blue Note Jazz Photographer and Cousin

Many years ago I tracked down a 2nd cousin of my Father's who is related via the WOLFF family of Berlin and Posen.  He had some amazing photos to share, and he asked if we were somehow related to the famous Francis Wolff, one of the original founders of Blue Note records and the photographer who took all those iconic black and white portraits of the New York Jazz age.  

Well, I have to admit I had no idea, and at the time I didn't find anything to connect us. So, I dropped it. For the time being.  

The Wolff Family

My 2nd great grandfather Emanuel Wolff was in the petroleum business with his brother Gustav in Berlin.  They were close. In fact, the two Wolff brothers from Posen married two Wolff sisters from Schroda (not related). They both had four children, and their signatures are witnesses to the marriages as the next generation came of age in Berlin. 

Brothers WOLFF married Sisters WOLFF

Because of the double marriage, my great grandmother Marie was a double-cousin of Gustav's children. So, they're special to me (especially with DNA testing), and I was reviewing their tree to see if any descendants are still alive. 

Pro Tip: Review your family tree from time to time as new records are bound to pop-up. 

Well, good news and bad news. The good news is during the review I found that Gustav had four children: three sons and a daughter.  I previously only had evidence of his sons Paul and Georg, who were both murdered in the Holocaust. The newly discovered son, Kurt was never married and died in 1914. And, his daughter Esther died in 1907 at the age of 30.

Sadly, I didn't have any record of any grandchildren in my tree.  

Following my new lead on Gustav's daughter, I found that she had been married, and had two children! Esther had married Siegfried KLEMPNER in 1896 and had a daughter Grete in 1897 and a son Hans in 1898. There were indeed grandchildren. As Ether was a 1st cousin of my great grandmother, that makes Grete and Hans 2nd cousins of my grandmother! That was great news for about ten minutes until I found that both had also perished in the Holocaust.  

However, there will still a faint glimmer of light.  Grete had married in 1920 to Berthold BLUMENTHAL. She could have had children, and in fact the Nazi census of 1939 showed a son Werner Heinz Blumenthal, aged 12 living with his father. It also said he was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in April 1943. 

Horrible. And sadly this happens to me all the time. I find relatives that are born between 1885 and 1930 in Germany, and for a short time all is well. There is hope. There is life. That is until I search the Holocaust databases for their names. Just plain horrible. 

So, with all the new data I had put into Geni, they have me a MyHeritage hint. There was a Blumenthal family tree on MyHeritage that strongly indicated there was living Blumenthal family in Australia of all places. The match was on Berthold and Grete, and showed another, older son that survived! 

Kurt Wolfgang BLUMENTHAL was born in Berlin on 4 May 1921, and was 17 years old on 17 Feb 1939 when he shipped out from England to Hong Kong. His parents had sent him ahead to England, ultimately bound for Australia, with plans to follow with his younger brother. They did not make it.  He did.  I can't even imagine. 

However, it did mean my father's 3rd cousin survived. He was married in Australia in 1951, had three children (my 4th cousins), and lived to the age of 76. 

It's All About The Photos

So, that's great. I thought this was a story about Francis Wolff. You know, one of the leading jazz photographers of all time?

Okay, so we're slowly getting to him. I haven't forgotten about him. However, this is exactly how family history research goes.  You pull one thread and end up somewhere you didn't expect, so allow me to continue pulling the thread.  

For me, much of the joy of researching my family revolves around photographs.  Finding 2nd or 3rd cousins with amazing photos, and then sharing our finds together in an ever-growing reunion. 

And in this case, when I contacted my "new" Australian cousins they didn't disappoint.   Kurt had managed to carry with him at least one photo album, and those photos are priceless.  There was a photo of Gustav's wife Minna -- the sister of my 2nd great grandmother Hedwig.  They were definitely sisters; the family resemblance was remarkable.  I then was able to share back with them a photo of Gustav and Gustav's parents!  That's what it is all about.  They also had photos of Esther and her husband Siegfried, likely the only way I would have ever found a photo of them. They also had photos of Esther's brother Paul... good old uncle Paul.  

However, there was a problem. No photos of Kurt or Georg.    That seemed strange to me, so I went back to the tree to see if I could find more information about them. Did I have it wrong.   And, no I didn't.  I found Kurt's 1914 death certificate, and it's a match. And, since Kurt died young, perhaps there weren't many photos of him in the first place.  That left Georg...  What's up with him.  Well, I found him too. I found his 2 Jan 1906 marriage in Berlin to Doris JOACHIMCZYK.  His parents match, and his brother Paul signed page 2 as a witness. 

1906 marriage of Georg Wolff in Berlin

On top of that, I also found his 14 Sep 1881 birth certificate in the Berlin archives on Ancestry. And, there was a hint.  Ancestry is good like that... Hints!  

The hint was in the Berlin, Germany, Births, 1874-1908 collection, and it was for a son named Jacob Franz Wolff, born 5 April 1907 in Berlin.  

1907 birth of Jacob Franz Wolff in Berlin

Now what's interesting, is that both the 1906 marriage and the 1907 birth didn't show up the first time I searched around this area many years ago.  Germany has a law that birth records over 110 years old are public, so the 1907 births were not released until 2017, and then there was a lag as they were indexed and finally uploaded onto Ancestry.  

Pro Tip: As time marches on, collections get updated with newly released information. 

Jacob Franz Wolff

Well, that was another great find. Another new 2nd cousin for my grandmother. 

However, I wasn't getting my hopes up due to the Nazi-era notes on the birth certificate's margin.  Sadly, I've seen these notes before, and they generally are bad news. On 17 August 1938 the Nazis passed a law that all male Jews had to adopt the middle name of "Israel" and all women had to add "Sara", and on 8 May 1939, a clerk in Berlin found Jacob's birth certificate and stamped it to add the name Israel.  Now, this was one of the ways the Nazis found all the Jews to be deported. Paperwork.  Now, what was nice to see on this one was that on 4 Sept 1950 there is a stamp undoing the illegal (by then) name change. Did he survive?  How come I've never heard of him before? 

Ancestry gave me a few more hints once I'd added him to the tree, and I found that he had arrived in New York City aboard the SS Albert Ballin on 3 May 1926 and applied for US Citizenship on 20 Oct 1926.  Then gone back to Germany, and then back to New York again in 1939.

He was going by his middle name of Franz, which is a common German name convention.  And, there were a lot more suggested records with the name Francis Wolff with the same 1907 birth date.  Looking closer at the addresses and other details, it was clear that he had moved to New York and changed his name to Francis Wolff. 

So, I googled him... Francis Wolff, 1907.  And, uh... whoa!

Francis Wolff (April 5, 1907 – March 8, 1971) was a record company executive, photographer and record producer. Wolff's skills, as an executive and a ... 
American, 1907–1971. ... Works. 1 work online. Reid Miles, Francis Wolff, Blue Note Records. Album cover for Freddie Hubbard, Hub-Tones. 1962. Exhibition.

One of the most renowned jazz photographers of all time, Francis Wolff (1907-1971) was essential to the success of the Blue Note record label.

Uh, really? 

Francis Wolff and Blue Note Records


The Updated Family Tree


The History of Blue Note Records

Instead of completely recasting the history of Blue Note records, I recommend the following materials.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Bodenheimer villa Jagowstraße 29-33 in Grunewald

"As you know, Himmler lived next door to your great grandfather in Berlin, " my father's cousin casually dropped during last week's family Zoom call.  Uh, no, no I did not "as you know" that, not at all!  

Research Tip: Even when you talk with your oldest relatives on a regular basis, and remind them frequently that you are interested in family history, they will still surprise you with new information after 18 months of weekly Zoom calls. 


My great grandfather Siegmund Bodenheimer was a banker for Danatbank and Dresdner Bank in Berlin. Upon the the birth of his third child Helga in 1920 he purchased a large villa at Jagowstrasse 29-33 in the beautiful residential district of Berlin-Grunewald.  

Jagowstraße 29-33 in Grunewald

The villa colony of Grunewald was the elegant residence of people from the best of circles. Soirees, tea parties, celebrations, arts and culture were the festivities of the day. 


Many family photos feature the large garden and grounds of the villa's estate. 

There was at the end of the lot was a garage and behind the garage was a flower garden which...  with a gold... a little pond with goldfish. And it was all really very pretty, very peaceful, and it was quite an elegant setting.  —Gerda Blau geb Bodenheimer, 1979

Helga with cousin Ruth Maass at goldfish pond, c1927

Cook and chambermaids at Jagowstrasse 29-33, c1928


Now also in this garden there was something very important. There was a... quite a... a fenced-in area. quite large, for our dog. We had three dogs, one who was chained to a dog house at the garage, because he... It was kind of a punishment, because he had bitten my cousin Hans into his behind, and it was quite a bite that he took, and from that time on he was chained to the garage... to the dog house at the garage. 

Now the one in the... I don't know how you call it in English... it was called Zwinge like, like the the bears in Bern.    

It was an enclosure and this, in this enclosure was Tello, who was our favorite a big German shepherd, who was very, very good-natured and very devoted. and he spent his day there. 

But we used to take walks, most of the time after dinner, my father and my brother, Edgar. and I took a walk with Tello. And at night Tello came into the house, but he was not allowed to run around free, but was chained to a kind of fencing of the upper hall, and was on a big chain. And that was right in front of my door. So it was kind of a cozy feeling. Tello was really watching me. 

—Gerda Blau geb Bodenheimer, 1979 


About 1931 a family film was taken of the family in the garden.  Siegmund's grandson Ron Blau later complied the footage with voiceover by his mother Gerda to produce Our Time in the Garden (1981). This short film features a lot of great footage of the Bodenheimer villa.  

Now this villa in the Grunewald was a big house. It had 24 rooms and it had a quite a large garden. I felt like a free... I was as free as never before. I spent a great deal of time in the garden. There was a gym set and I could for hour do gym on this gym set, even by myself. The garden was... I remember when we first moved into this house the garden was so that you could ride a bicycle around the paths of the garden. But later on it was kind of fancied up and there were steps put in and from that time on we could not ride a bicycle anymore. But it was very, very beautiful and we spent a great deal of our time in the garden.  —Gerda Blau geb Bodenheimer, 1979

Family on bench from Our Time in the Garden

Siegmund with wife Rosi in the garden, c1931


After 43 years of arduous work, on 20 Sep 1933 Siegmund's work and business career came to an end with his resignation from Dresdner Bank.   

Siegmund's only son Edgar left Germany in October 1933 for New York, and Siegmund himself started making preparations to leave the country. 


In March 1934, Siegmund shook the dust of Germany from his feet and traveled to a resort in Switzerland with his wife and youngest daughter.  

Siegmund did not sell the house at Jagowstrasse, expecting to return to it someday after the Nazi craziness had blown over.  

There were still housekeeping staff living there, and Siegmund allowed his wife's cousin Vera Lachmann to run her Jewish Children's School out of the chauffeur's residence on the grounds. 

For six years, until the Nazis shut it down in 1939, Vera used the building as a school for Jewish children who had been excluded from the German education system under the April 1933 Law Against the Overcrowding of German Schools.

The same year, Heinrich Himmler moved into Hagenstraße 22, which was the neighboring house on the left to Jagowstrasse 29-33. Many of the wealthy Jewish families of the area were moving out of Germany, and the Nazis made themselves at home in their newly vacated homes. 


Siegmund Bodenheimer arrived in New City on 29 Sep 1936 aboard the SS Berengaria. 

His wife Rosi returned to Berlin at least twice to dissolve the huge Jagowstrasse household, and managed to get a good deal of the furniture, art, china, crystal, and silver out of the country. 

Three of the children who attended Vera Lachmann's school at Jagowstraße were the Frankfurther's.  Felix, Beate, and Eva Frankfurther were the step-children of Vera's sister Nina Frankfurther née Lachmann. Beate related a story to a relative that I'm paraphrasing here third-hand. 

While attending Vera's school at Jagowstraße, there were often times when a ball would go over the fence into the gardens of the neighboring villas.  One of the neighbors just happened to be the Reichsführer of the Nazi SS, Heinrich Himmler, who had the SS guarding at his residence 24 hours a day.  It was quite strange to have SS Nazi guards return the ball, ruffle our hair, and kindly tell us Jewish children to not kick the ball so high.

In checking the veracity of this improbable family rumor, I did in fact find that Himmler lived directly next door during that time.  So... plausible. 


Kristallnacht,  9 November 1938.


By 1939, the situation for Jews in Berlin was intolerable.  In April 1939 the Frankfurther children left Berlin for England with their parents following on one of the last flights out of Germany in late August. 

Hitler invaded Poland on 1 September 1939; two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany, beginning World War II.

Vera Lachmann abandoned her school at Jagowstraße for the United States in November 1939, assisted by friends in both countries. In 1944 Vera established Camp Catawba in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. 


Siegmund Bodenheimer became a Naturalized U.S. Citizen on 30 Nov 1943 in New York City. 

1943 naturalization of Siegmund Bodenheimer


During the war, aerial reconnaissance by U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency took place, and on 31 May 1944 this photograph of Siegmund's villa was taken.   Siegmund Bodenheimer, now a US Citizen owns property that appears to be untouched by the war and is still standing strong. 

From the photograph, you can see the main house is at the bottom left with a vast area of forested gardens. The goldfish pond is in the upper right corner of the estate. 

1944 aerial photograph

Also in the photo, you can see Heinrich Himmler's house neighboring on the left occupying the corner lot at Jagowstraße and Hagenstraße.  


Sometime between 31 May 1944 and the end of the war, the Bodenheimer villa at Jagowstraße 29-33 was destroyed by the Allied bombing of Berlin.  The single largest raid on Berlin took place on 18 March 1945 with over 1,221 Allied bombers in an all-out attack. Although the bombers targeted the city’s rail yard, their customary inaccuracy combined with the intermittent cloud cover meant that more than 3,000 tons of bombs impacted all over the city.

I suspect that this March 1945 is the raid that destroyed the house, and for about two days I thought that Himmler's house was the actual target and the neighboring homes were collateral damage. This is likely not the actual case, as the precision bombing wasn't that precise and cloud cover complicated things.  By the end of the war, half of all houses in Berlin were damaged and around a third uninhabitable. 

398th bomber group over Germany


Siegmund's son Edgar visited the divided Berlin in 1953, and walked the old familiar streets of his youth.  Edgar’s visit to the wrecked Bodenheimer family home on Jagowstrasse produced just this comment: “Only the back wall and back balcony remain of the house, and the rubble lies around messily. The garden is entirely overgrown and wild.”  


Here is the current aerial view for comparison.  To note, there are now four large houses on the property, with ample gardens in the back of each one.  Himmler's old house to the left is gone, and replaced with two villas.  The house to the right is the same as it was is 1944, as are the villas at the top of the photo.  

2021 aerial photograph

The street name has been changed from Jagowstraße.  The current address of the four villas are Richard Strauss-Staße 29, 31A, 31B, and 33 in Berlin-Grunewald.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Claude Heilman, Film Producer and Cousin

Often times when researching the tree I run across interesting people with interesting stories. At least I think so, and each time I find one I always mean to write it up and post it here. Well, today I ran into one, and before I forget everything I've learned about him, here's the story of how I found him and who he is.   

The Lachmann Family of Graudenz

My great great grandmother was born Henriette LACHMANN in Thorn, and I've spent a lot of time researching the Lachmann name. Not only were there a lot of them, but there are available records and finding them isn't as impossible as other lines.  

Berlin grave of Naumann Lachmann (1818-1874)
In any case, while researching her greater family a few years ago, I ran into her uncle Naumann LACHMANN and did a deep dive on him. I found his wife, and a child. I did a bunch of research on his wife's side of the family. Found a marriage of his child. And then found I was researching the wrong Naumann Lachmann.  Henriette's uncle lived from 1818 to 1874 and died in Berlin without ever getting married. I found his grave. I had a nice little family tree for some random Lachmann. 

I learned that places are really important.  Uncle Naumann was born in Graudenz, not Neuenburg. Minor details.

So that chopped off branch of the tree just sat there by itself for years.  That is, until a few days ago when I was looking at DNA matches and found a match that shared the Lachmann name.  I built out a tree and ended up in a completely new city, Lobens, Posen which make a direct Lachmann match unlikely.  However, as it often happens, during the time I was digging into this area of the tree and checking each and every match, I did a few searches for Lachmann along with the three cities: Graudenz, Neuenburg, and Lobens. 

That's when I ran into the other Naumann LACHMANN again. The wrong one, from the wrong city. However, it turns out his city of Neuenburg is actually the city my Lachmann family was in before they were in Graudenz.   Time as marched on, and in the ensuing years, I have gone back a few more generations and ended up in Neuenburg. 

The Lachmann Family of Neuenburg

With my updated tree, and the two Naumann LACHMANN's now linked to the same city, the obvious situation is that they are first cousins, named after a common grandfather or great grandfather. And, as I looked at the newly improved family tree, there was an obvious place for Naumann LACHMANN (1824-1894) to sit: right next to a supposedly only child, Mortiz LACHMANN of Neuenburg.  One quick note, only children in the 1800s are very rare, and if you see one on your tree you should assume there are siblings. 

With the "other" Naumann LACHMANN now situated into my tree as Henriette's father's first cousin (my 1st cousin 5x removed) I obviously started to complete the research I had abandoned on his descendants. 

I reattached his wife and "only" child Jenni (Henriette's 2nd cousin), and quickly found that he had two granddaughters, Bertha and Therese from the 1894 marriage of Jenni LACHMANN and Nathan HIRSCH.   

While Jenni and Nathan were murdered in the Holocaust, thankfully both Bertha and Therese survived.  And while I couldn't find any children for Therese, I did find that Bertha HIRSCH had married Martin HEILMANN and had a child with him.   Martin had two sons from a previous marriage, so his third son, Klaus HEILMANN born in Köln in 1927 is my only DNA-related cousin.  Klaus is my grandfather Edgar's 4th cousin.  It is almost a 100% chance that my grandfather had no idea that Klaus existed, but Klaus is interesting enough for me to write about him! 

And before I do, here's the relevant part of the family tree for those of you who didn't understand a word of what I just wrote. Hopefully it more clearly illustrates the path from Naumann LACHMANN to his great grandsons -- one of which is the subject of this very post. 

Family tree for Jenni Hirsch, geb Lachmann

Meet Claude Heilman (born Klaus Heilmann) 

Claude Heilman in 1960 (Klaus Heilmann)
Klaus Heilmann was born in Köln, Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on 27 June 1927 to Martin Heilmann and Bertha Heilmann née Hirsch (my great grandmother Rosi's 3rd cousin). 

Young Klaus escaped to London with his parents during WWII, and quickly got interested in the film industry. He spent some time at an early age working with the J. Arthur Rank organization in England before moving out to California. 

Klaus Heilmann, now using the name Claude Heilman, arrived in New York on 25 Apr 1947 aboard the Queen Elizabeth, and quickly made his way to Hollywood, California to pursue his movie dreams.

Less than a year after his arrival, Klaus Heilmann (aka Claude), aged 20, declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen on 19 January 1948 in Los Angeles. His address at the time was 6050 6th Avenue, Los Angeles, California and his occupation was listed as Film Publicity.  

Claude got his first job in the Los Angeles film industry in 1948 as a doorman at Fox West Coast Theatres, most likely Grauman's Egyptian Theatre which was run by Fox at the time.  

In the ensuing years he rose to assistant manager at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, before trying his hand as a film producer. 

U.S. Citzenship

On 27 May 1954, Claude Heilman petitioned for U.S. citzenship via naturalization. He gave his address as 4711 W 18th St, Los Angeles, California. Light complexion, 6 feet 3 inches in height, weighing 165 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. His two witnesses standing up for him were Charles L. King III of 1845 Franklin Canyon Drive, Beverely Hills, and Hyatt H. Daab of 1239 N. Sweetzer Ave, Hollywood. The petition was filed and granted on 11 June 1954, with certificate 7214645 issued. 

The Hollywood Adventures of Claude Heilman

I love timelines. What follows is exactly that, a timeline of all the Hollywood film projects that Claude had a hand in producing or pursuing. Only one of them seems to have been actually made, but it is clear that he was actively involved in many projects over the years.  Many of them struck my fancy as I was compiling the list, and I actually think at least two of them should be made today! 

The Furnace Within (1954)

Variety's July 7, 1954 issue reported that Claude was teaming up with his friend: 


Hollywood, July 6. 

Production program of three pictures is set by Heilman-King Productions, a new company formed  by Claude Heilman, formerly with  Fox West Coast, and Charles L.  King 3d, former actor. Heilman  will produce and King will direct  the films. 

First of the trio will be “The  Furnace Within.” to be filmed next  month on the Mojave Desert. Second will be “Forever and Ever,”  to be shot in Japan. Third, still  untitled, will be made in; Oregon.

While it doesn't look like any of those films were ever made, it's clear that at the tender age of 27 he was all in on being a film producer.  His friend Charles L. King III, aged 35 at the time, was the son of the actor, Charles Lafayette King Jr., with Hollywood connections via his father, aunt, and grandfather -- he later became a movie sound technician working on The Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Wagon Train, and many other TV series.  Tragically on 29 June 1990, Charles L. King died at age 69 when he was shot and killed by an intruder in his Hollywood apartment just before midnight. 

Forever and Ever (1955)

Mentioned in the article above, this was supposed to be a film shot in Japan as the second in a series by Heilman-King.  Never happened. 

The Earth Is Mine (1959)

Three years later, as the age of 30 Claude formed Vintage Productions to film the novelization of Alice Tisdale Hobart's novel on the California wine industry during prohibition, The Cup and the Sword.   The film was named This Earth Is Mine and stars Rock Hudson, Jean Simmons and Claude Rains. It was filmed during 1958 at winery locations around California, and was a big picture. 

One of the most interesting things about The Earth is Mine is that it was financed by California Wine Growers, and was shot on location at many vineyards around the state.  

Variety magazine covered the filming in their October 1, 1958 issue, 

Little Intimate Junkets To The Grape 

Universal’s ‘Winelift’ Operating Under Military Logistics As Staffers Dedicate Their Stamina 

Napa, Cal., Sept. 30 — Universal is using a new publicity gimmick on its biggest-budget production, the $3,500,000 "This Earth Is Mine.” 

Henry King is shooting on location in the Napa Valley—wine capital of the U.S.—for six weeks and studio has devised system of “individualized junkets” to get full coverage for the picture. 

Instead of bringing 40 to 50 newsmen and magazine reps from New York and Los Angeles en masse, Universal is bringing them in by twos and threes all through six-week location period. 

This has resulted in a headache for the location publicity man, Fred Banker, and his assistant, Mike Baiimohl, not to mention the Frisco exploitation man, Mike Vogel, and Jack Diamond and Harry Niemeyer in Los Angeles and Phil Gerard in New York. 

But Universal staff, convinced that barrage of publicity is necessary from the time shooting started early this month until release next July, figures small, continuous junkets will pay off. 

Logistics of junkets involve: 

(1) Sending actor Alberto Morin, dressed as a sommelier, to five dozen writers in Los Angeles and New York to pour an iced glass of champagne and to deliver junket invitation personally; 

(2) Follow-up phone calls to each writer to set a definite date; 

(3) Delivery of four bottles of still wine, with round-trip air tickets to Frisco attached; 

(4) Picking up writers in publicity limousine at Frisco Airport and chauffeuring them north to Casa Lu-Al Motel, 50 miles north of Frisco and a mile outside Napa; 

(5) Putting writers up at motel—80% taken over by Universal—and then taking them another 25 miles into vineyards where Henry King is shooting; I 

(6) Arranging valley winery ; tour—premium wineries, Charles i Krug, Inglenook, Beaulieu, Schramsberg and Louis Martini are all working with studio; 

(7) Shipping writers back to Frisco and home bases after two or three-day stay. 

Whole thing is called "Operation Winelift” and Banker says it isn’t unusual to put a pair of writers on a 9 a.m. plane bound for New York and walk a few yards to pick up another pair of writers in on the 9:05 a.m. plane from Los Angeles. 

Each tour gets full-dress treatment—last weekend, for instance, U’s eastern publicity manager, Gerard, escorted Ed Miller of Seventeen, Florence Sommer of Redbook and Mark Nichols of Coronet in from New York, 

U feeling is that this picture, scripted by Casey Robinson and coproduced by Robinson and Claude Heilman, marks a definite turning point in company policy. Idea is that only a dozen films a year, half of them big budget and other half somehow unusual, will be produced henceforth instead of three dozen programmers. 

But, says Banker, “we can’t afford to shoot a picture and then forget about it until it’s in release ... we have to have a consistent, long-range campaign and that’s what we’re getting here.” 

Total publicity budget for these six weeks may run as high as $75,- 000, and that’s just a starter— film is on a 12-week shooting schedule with last half to be done at studio. 

Among those who’ve already had individualized junkets are:  Norman Siegal, Photoplay; Dave Zeitlin, Life; Stan Gordon, Look; Tom Wood, N.Y. Herald Tribune; Erskine Johnson, NEA; Betty Voigt, Newsweek; Dean Gauchey, legman for Harrison Carroll; Paine Knickerbocker, repping N. Y. Times; Louis Wolf, Chicago Tribune. 

Booked, for current or future junkets are: Neil Rau, repping Louella Parsons; Nelson Hughes, repping-Hed- da Hopper; Rick DuBrow, UPI; Larry Barbier and Don Ornitz, Globe Photos; Lize Wilson, American Weekly; Pat Campbell, Motion Picture; Peer Oppenheimer, Family Weekly;. Lowell Redelings and Len Boyd, Hollywood Citizen- News; Harold Heffernan, NANA; Nat Dallinger, King Features; Simon Bourgin, Newsweek; Ruth Waterbury, Cosmopolitan; Herb Stein, Triangle Publications; Sara Salzer, Seventeen; A. M. Colegrove Scripps-Howard; Hal Boyle, AP. 

U has grabbed considerable space in Frisco and other Northern California dailies, figures on bringing in as many of what it calls "key people” as possible in preparation for months-long campaign. Picture, which centers on a Napa Valley wine-making family and is based on Alice Tisdale Hobart’s novel. The Cup and the Sword,” also has fervent co-operation of California Wine Institute and Wine Advisory Board. 

A quick summary of the film itself from Wikipedia:

Elizabeth (Jean Simmons), an English cousin of the Rambeau family, arrives in California in 1931 for a casual visit with her aunt and uncle, only to find her future pre-determined with a pre-arranged marriage to Andre Swann, a young cousin of another branch of the family. Another cousin, John Rambeau (Rock Hudson), disagrees with those plans, informs Elizabeth that she's being married off to consolidate the family's wine holdings, hints at other dark secrets of the Rambeau family, and casually romances her. Elizabeth is conflicted over the entire series of events.

The patriarch of the family, Phillipe (Claude Rains), wanting to keep the winemaking heritage of his family pure, refuses to deal with bootleggers eager for a ready-made supply of alcohol. John, however, is not so righteous, and arranges deals with Chicago gangsters for the valley's wine supply. Violence, gunplay, and wildfires ensue. Elizabeth is caught in the middle, between Andre, the gentle man she is to marry (but who wants to be a priest) and John, the passionate man ready to make a deal with the devil to survive. And John may already have started a family of his own, fathering an illegitimate child with a vineyard worker—and the woman's husband is not one to go along with the whole sordid mess. Months, and years, of lies, blackmail and conflict follow, ending with the romantic union of John and Elizabeth, and their commitment to the Rambeau winemaking heritage.

The real deal. In fact, the film was Universal's biggest budgeted production at the time with a budget of $3 to $3.5 million.  Claude was a wunderkind Hollywood film producer at age 30. 

Islandia (1959)

Working from the amazing success of The Earth is Mine, Claude quickly started making plans for more movies. On Tuesday, May 19, 1959 Claude Heilman and Casey Robinson held a press luncheon at the Brown Derby in Los Angeles where they announced their high hopes to put Islandia before the cameras in August on location in Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, Scotland, and the Italian Alps.   

The May-August 1959 issue of Motion Pictures Exhibitor reported,

New Production Team Schedules 'Islandia" 

HOLLYWOOD — Casey Robinson and Claude Heilman, whose “This Earth Is Mine,’ a current Universal release, is the result of their work as a producing team, announced last week that they have formed a further partnership. 

After a careful and thorough canvas of important literary properties, they have found one which, in the eyes of the top literary critics and millions of readers, remains unsurpassed for its unique and monumental nature. This epic work is the celebrated Utopian novel, “Islandia,” written by Austin Tappan Wright, first published in 1942, and recently republished by Rinehart and Company, due to heavy interest. 

Robinson is now engaged in adapting and updating the Shangri-La story to fit the present day requirements. He will do the screenplay as well as co-produce the film. Robert Bless will do the screen adaptation. 

Heilman, 31, is the youngest member of the team. He comes to motion picture production field with a solid background as production associate in Europe, publicity and exploitation with the J. Arthur Rank Organization. Recently, he has been in theatre management for Fox West Coast Theatres. They plan to bring “Islandia” to the screen in 70mm screen process in Technicolor, with shooting to take place in Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, the North Italian Dalmatian Alps, and the North Scottish coast and marsh islands. 

When the cameras turn late in August, there will be at the helm of “Islandia” one of the industry’s most distinguished directors who is now being negotiated for. A cast including three high lustre marquee names is also being sought. 

As often happens in Hollywood, the classic story that is retold over drinks thousands of times as the years pass, this film also never got made.  They were so close, and yet somehow the deal fell through.  A lot of deals fall through.  It happens. In fact, it looks like Islandia, which sounds like a cross between Lord of the Rings and Lost Horizon (of Shangri-La fame) has still never been filmed. The November 2, 2016 issue of The New Yorker features a nice article by Charles Finch about The Forgotten Novel That Inspired Homesickness for an Imaginary Land.

William The Conqueror (1960)

On December 2, 1959, Motion Picture Exhibitor reported that Claude Heilman was talking to the press about his big plans for a big-budget production of William the Conqueror

LONDON Observations by Jack MacGregor 

ONE TIME MANAGER at Graumann’s Chinese, Hollywood, 30-year-old Claude Heilman called the press to hear his grandiose plans to film “William the Conqueror” in Super Technirama-70 on a $7,000,000 budget around Europe. He told forcefully of his hopes to get Brando to star; his hopes to get Olivier to direct; his hopes to get British backing; his hopes to start shooting the Battle of Hastings (England) scenes in Yugoslavia late next spring. Described on the blurb as “the natural successor to the late Mike Todd”—he must be the sixth contender—this young promoter who reflectively wonders how it was possible for Shakespeare to have passed over this exciting hour in European history, though New York bound, is wisely not contemplating an American press conference until he has some names signed. (This is not to be confused with a similarly titled Cinerama project). 

In the January 4, 1960 issue of Boxoffice magazine, there was feature on the ambitious plans of 32 year old Claude Heilman to produce William the Conqueror in Super Technirama 70mm for showing on 90x40 foot curved screens. To be directed by Sir Laurence Olivier, with a screenplay by Christopher Fry, starring Marlon Brandon and Maria Schell, this exciting film was never made. A competing Cinerama film, which may or may not have merged with this project was also never made. 

Photo of Claude Heilman in Boxoffice, January 4, 1960

Yes, certainly a lot of press in January about people being "all but signed up" and yet... 

By April 1960, it looks like Brando had fallen through and discussions were underway with Charlton Heston and actress Alix Talton to start shooting in May in Morocco and Yugoslavia. 

And none of that ever happened. The deal fell apart and the movie was never made.  

Desamor (c1962)

Desamor is described as a story of the Mexican land revolution where peasants rose up against the landed elites during the 1910 revolution calling for "Mexico for the Mexicans" land reforms. Very little else is known about this project, and it certainly looks like another Heilman project that was in the works that never made it to the big screen.  Desamor is Spanish for "heartbreak". works that never made it to the big screen.  Desamor is Spanish for "heartbreak".

The Odyssey of Justice Lee (1963-1966)

In August 1963, Claude Heilman, now working for United Film Associates International, Goldwyn studios in Hollywood, flew over the region around Taos, New Mexico scouting locations for an as yet unnamed Western set in an 1860's that was to star Spencer Tracy.  

The Taos News, Thursday 29 August 1963 

Movie May Be Filmed Here

The Taos area is being considered—again—for a movie location. 

Taos C of C Manager W. B. McCollum has had correspondence and telephone talks with Claude Heilman, location chief for United Film Associates International, Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood. 

Heilman recently flew over the region as the first steop in location scouting for the picture (the name of it is a secret yet.) Prime interest in connection with an information request was about Taos and Carson National Forest, Philmont Scout ranch, CS Ranch, Red River, Eagle Nest and the flatland between Palo Fletchado Pass, Cimarron and Springer. 

The Film story, dated in the 1860's, is set in a lush valley of northern New Mexico, with mountain ranges in the background and extensive ranch country including cattle and horses. The C of C furnished the studio with a listing of area, ownership and description of major ranches in the area. 

Starting date for the production, a western in Technicolor, is anticipated for November, with a shooting schedule of nine weeks on location, the C of C was advised.   

By November, more details were forthcoming, and the dates had been pushed. 

The Taos News, Thursday, 14 November 1963

Now It's March For Film

Looks like it'll  be March before that movie company starts filming here. That's the word from Claude Heilman of United Film Associates International, Goldwyn Studios.

Said he in a letter to Taos C of C Manager W. B. McColum: 

"As you recall, our screenplay was specifically written with approval and agreement of Mr. Spencer Tracy, for the lead role. Mr. Tracy had chosen this property as his major schedule and of course our own plans called for a target date of October production. Within days after Mr. Tracy went into the hospital here in Santa Monica, we were forced into a rescheduling of our other players including Steve McQueen who has since started a production for Columbia in Texas."

"It is the prime object of every motion picture company to film its exterior locations during the very best weather condition and our own screenplay calls for both summer and winter conditions, so her we were with a later and later date of starting and a rescheduled cast, including Mr. Frederick March in the Tracy role. The screenplay now rewritten to form the new cast, is complete and weather conditions and studio financing agreements depending, we should start in the late March of this coming year.  

"Present plans call for the locations to be filmed in the area of Taos, the Red River valley and with the gratefully appreciated cooperation of the CS Ranch in the Cimarron valley."

Now here is where a little speculation comes into play.  In 1966 The Odyssey of Justice Lee is mentioned in an article, touted as a Western screenplay by Earl Feldon (could be Earl Felton) that had Tony Curtis all lined up for filming in the Hollywood area.  My guess is that this is the same film as the unnamed 1963 film, with any thoughts of New Mexico abandoned to accommodate Tony Curtis' desire to stay close to home.  I could be wrong. 

The Daily Colonist, 29 March 1966

Curtis Sets Western 

HOLLYWOOD (NANA)—It comes to everyone and It has  come to Tony Cards. His next picture will be a western.  It's The Odyssey of Justice Lee. Tony has four pictures on  tap, and the western appeals to him because It can be made  near Hollywood, or even In it. A tree's a tree. His reason  for wanting to stay in Hollywood at this time. Is the impending visit from the stork for his young wife. Their second  child is due In mid-July, almost to tbs day when their daughter, Alexa n dr a, seas bom two years ago. Naturally with  three daughters—two with previous wife, JbjmI Leigh,  Tony would like a son this time. Curtis is currently winding  Up his picture with Vlraa Lial sod George C. Scott at  Warners in Not With My Wife, You Don't! For Narmaa  Panama. Eleanor Parker, on the same lot, was rehearsing  her nude bedroom scene for An American Dream. Eleanor  Parker in the nude? Isn't this something nude for her.  Sorry. It's the imminence of my trip, to London. 

Sound General Quarters (?)

This film appears in Claude's listing in the International TV & Video Almanac and nowhere else. Perhaps the name was changed and it still never came out?  A mystery.  Likely about Pearl Harbor or some other major military battle the US Navy was involved in.  

The Adventures of Gulliver (?)

Another mystery entry in the International TV & Video Almanac that remains ellusive. There is a 1968 television cartoon series of The Adventures of Gulliver by Hanna-Barbera.  And while 1968 is in the right timeframe, I can find no evidence of Heilman's involvement. 

The Italian Goes Home (1966)

The University of Minnesota has a screenplay by William Attaway and Claude Heilman called, The Italian goes home : original screenplay treatment from a novel in progress 1966

There is no evidence that either the novel or the movie came to fruition. It is listed as a United Film Associates International presentation, with an address for Claude Heilman at 27 East 79th street, New York 10021, NY.   

Could the New York address mean that Claude has left Hollywood by 1966?


The IMDB entry for Claude Heilman has exactly one entry in it, but there is an entry in the 2001 edition of International Television & Video Almanac that lists more for him, including the fact that he was the CEO of GEM Communications and Islandia Enterprises. 

Claude Heilman in the International TV & Video Almanac 2001

This matches with a reference that he was with Global Entertainment Management (GEM) in the UK (which looks to supply smart TV solutions for hotels). Perhaps his IMDB entry is not complete as it certainly looks like he continued in the entertainment industry in some manner his entire life. 

Cousin Bait

In any case, if you are reading this and some of these names attract your attention, feel free to click on the links to Geni to see more about how you might be related!