So you can read my books

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Once upon a time there was a hero.

He didn't look like a hero. No stunt doubles took the painful hits for him. No stirring soundtracks played overhead as he struggled alone.

No director stood ready to shout "Cut!" should events get out of hand. No hand stretched out to him when he kneeled on the ground, the breath knocked out of him. Mostly, he ventured on his epic quest alone. Alone. The way dark. The defeats many. The promise of success only a mockery in his head.

Schumel Gelbfisz was born in Warsaw, Poland. As a very young man, he left that city on foot and penniless. After an epic journey, he made his way to Birmingham, England where he stayed for a few hard years, using the Vonnegut-like name Samuel Goldfish. In 1898, he emigrated to the U.S {in steerage.} But fearing refusal of entry due to his quick-silver identity changes, he got off the boat in Nova Scotia, Canada.

He finally made it to New York where he soared in success as a salesman in the garment industry. He was a Jewish Ulysses, living by his wits. He became a naturalized citizen in 1902. Scanning the landscape for financial opportunities, Gelbfisz found one in his beloved past-time, going to the movies. He went into the movie business with a vaudeville performer and a theater owner, using an unknown director, Cecil B. DeMille. As it usually does, business got nasty.

And he left ... the company not the dream. He partnered with the Broadway producers, the brothers Selwyn. They named their studio in a meld of their names : the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. Wily as ever, Gelbfisz changed his name to Samuel Goldwyn.

He got forced out of the business, never becoming part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

But he never gave up on his dream. He created the Samuel Goldwyn Studio and for 35 years made classics that people like me still enjoy : WUTHERING HEIGHTS, THE LITTLE FOXES, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, GUYS & DOLLS, PORKY & BESS, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, THE WESTERNER {Gary Cooper}, and the fascinating but utterly silly, THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO {Gary Cooper.} Samuel Goldwyn was a dreamer that refused to quit.

And sadly, most of what he is remembered for is his misuse of the language that was not his first. How many of us who laugh at his words know a second language? And his sharp wit was what enabled him to survive a trek clear across Europe, a journey over the seas, and battles in the shark-infested waters of Hollywood. Often his wit is mistaken for a verbal flub as in : "I don't think anybody should write their autobiography until after they're dead. A hospital is no place to be sick. {And if you've ever been ill in the hospital, you know that statement is oddly true.}

I refused to let his mis-remembrance stand. I wanted to point to him and say, "There. There was a hero."

But more importantly, I wanted to say to all of who struggle against the odds, against the galling weight of rejections, ignoring the stinging voice of inner doubt : "You can be a hero. No, if you are still writing, still submitting to shadowy agents, distant publishers, you ARE a hero. And while heroes may lose, may win, there is something they don't do. They don't quit. Don't you quit. Wear your own spandex. Be your own hero."


  1. How very inspirational. What a great story, Roland! I didn't know any of that about Samuel Goldfish. Very cool.

  2. What a fantastic and inspirational story. Thank you for sharing that and thank you for stopping by and commenting. If you hadn't I might have never found you.

  3. What a great post, Roland. I'm feeling inspired.