Sunday, February 21, 2010

Looking Back - It started in Pittsburgh

Leon Shamroy - famed cinematographer - 4 academy awards

Pittsburgh may be a strange place to start from but Leon's father Elisha Shamroy had set himself up in the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. Even though Elisha had studied and been certified as a Pharmacist in Russia, he was required to be recertified here in the USA. In 1898 Pittsburgh, Elisha is certified as an assistant Pharmacist but in a few years he is fully certified and moves to New York City and opens his own Pharmacy.

Abram Herrmann, the father of Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, also was living in Pittsburgh after having some interesting adventures on the high seas, working on several whaling ships, a plantation asst. overseer in Hawaii and a shipwreck on his way to the United States. His first wife was Minnie Sandomire [Mina Sandomirsky], after an arguement she returned to Russia with their children. Abram convinced her to return but she returned in 1902 to her cousin Elisha Shamroy who had already moved to New York. She convinced her husband Abram to also come to New York where his brother Nathan Dardick was already living. Abram did move to New York but the marriage didn't last. they divorsed and went their separate ways. The one surviving child William [born in Pittsburgh in 1896], would be the half brother of Bernard Herrmann by his father and a cousin of Leon Shamroy by his mother.

The 3rd relative was Leo Robin, educated and raised in Pittsburgh. He was a cousin and friend of the Herrmann's. Leo's grandfather was Herman [Hersch] Finkelpearl and - Herman Finkelpearl was the uncle of Abram Herrmann above. I believe Dr Henry Finkelpearl [son of Herman] was the doctor who delivered my grandfather William Herrmann. Anyway Leo Robin ends up moving to New York and becomes a famous song lyricist of Broadway and Hollywood musicals.

All 3 [Bernard Herrmann - Leon Shamroy - Leo Robin] were in the top of their game in the Hollywood industry. Eventually these all leave New York City for living in Hollywood California. After many years only Bernard Herrmann leaves for England after falling out of favor in Hollywood. Bernard is my great uncle and the others - Leon and Leo are my family cousins.

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