The American Way: A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe

S. & S. Audio. Feb. 2023. 8:33 hrs. ISBN 9781797153889. $19.99. HIST
Cowriters Stapinski (Murder in Matera) and Siegler (Signs of Resistance) uncover the truthfulness of tall tales told by Siegler’s grandfather, furrier Jules Schulback. Schulback always claimed to have filmed Marilyn Monroe’s iconic subway grate scene for The Seven Year Itch; after his death, the lost film was found, proving that this tale, at least, was based in fact. Siegler maintains a distance as she digs into her father’s other stories, narrating her grandfather’s history of growing up in Berlin, the influences that spurred him to success, and his family’s desperate escape from Germany in 1938. She exudes both love and pride as Schulback settles in the Bronx, builds another prosperous furrier business, and becomes a person of local importance. Paralleling Schulback’s life is that of Harry Donenfeld, a Jewish immigrant who made a fortune as a pulp magazine publisher in the 1930s and guided Superman into franchise history. Ironically, Donenfeld cut out royalties to Superman cocreators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, yet helped many Jewish immigrants, such as Schulback, escape Nazi Germany.
VERDICT The lives of Schulback and Donenfeld connect old Hollywood, the Golden Age of Comics, and the Holocaust. Fans of celebrity tell-all stories and comic book histories will enjoy.
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