Timing is everything, and Jules Schulback was living proof.
The New York Times has a fascinating article about Schulback, a furrier who was in his 90s when he died over 10 years ago. Not long before his death, his family helped him move to a new apartment. While packing, granddaughter Bonnie Siegler and her husband, Jeff Scher, came across Schulback’s huge stash of home movies. “Opi,” as he was known to his grandchildren, was a film buff and a colorful storyteller. He liked reminisce about the day in September 1954 when he took his camera and walked from his Manhattan townhouse apartment to a nearby film shoot … where Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway grate for The Seven Year Itch. The family was never quite sure if that tale was true until Scher, a filmmaker, went frame by frame through Schulback’s film. In 2004, the family screened the footage for friends. That was the only time the film was seen by anyone else outside the family until now.
But Schulback — who immigrated from the U.S. from Germany — had even more powerful stories to tell about the importance of timing and instinct. As the Times reports:
“In 1938, Mr. Schulback had argued with his family in Germany that Adolf Hitler was much more dangerous than anyone thought. According to Ms. Siegler, his family believed that Hitler’s hate speech was simply rhetoric, and that he wouldn’t act on anything he was saying. Mr. Schulback, 25 at the time, urged them to pack their bags and leave Berlin with him.”
Schulback sold everything and sailed to America to seek the required financial sponsor (while pretending he didn’t need financial help), and then schmoozed his way back into Nazi Germany (pretending he was a distributor for a new Clark Gable movie) in order to collect his wife, Edith, and their toddler Helen. The Times says that Schulback then “…escaped back to the United States with a few suitcases, claiming to the Nazi immigration officers that his family was going on vacation. The date was Nov. 8, the day before Kristallnacht.”
Schulback’s parents, four sisters, and in-laws stayed behind. As the Times wrote, “… they resisted, opting to wait and see how things developed, never imagining the horror that awaited them and millions of other European Jews.” And, like millions of others, the family members died in the Holocaust.
“Simply rhetoric.” “Wait and see.” Don’t those words seem especially chilling these days? There’s so much more to this article than Marilyn Monroe and her two pairs of underwear — and that’s a lot to say when that Marilyn footage was shot from right over director Billy Wilder’s shoulder!