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Tuesday’s Tip: Max Broida’s Head

Max Broida, circa 1894, so about age 9; cropped from a family picture.
Max Broida, circa 1894, so about age 8-9; cropped from a family picture.

Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Look at data- and images- in context.

Look at data- and images- in sequence.

And look again.

 

We have had the pictures in this post for many years, and the new image we found on eBay of Max Broida makes a total of five (if you don’t count his film images). It wasn’t until after writing the Sunday post, however, and looking at the other four images we have of Max, that a new thought presented itself. So make sure you revisit old data and pictures periodically, since you have new information (hopefully) that will help you understand more about an ancestor.

We know that the picture posted Sunday of Max was most likely taken around 1924, because that is when he lived at 1020 W. Pico St. in Los Angeles per the City Directory, and that is the same as what he wrote on the back of the picture. Max/Buster signed himself as, “The Hairless Man”- had he performed in the circus under that guise? In vaudeville? He certainly had many Hollywood roles where his bald pate featured prominently.

Well, then what do you think of the two images in this post? Although they have been posted before, it didn’t click until now that Max had hair in these images. Max apparently was not born without hair, unless they had purchased a wig for him as a boy in the above picture.

Lucy and Dave's Wedding
Max Broida at the wedding of his brother Theodore “Dave”Broida and Lucy Shatzke, 20 Aug 1916. Family photo.

Max was born in 1885 or 1886, so was about 30-31 when his brother Dave got married. Again, unless that was a wig in the above picture, he had hair- receding quickly for a young man, but nevertheless, he had hair.

What was Max doing and where was he living in 1916, when the wedding picture was taken? We have found a ‘Max. M. Brodie’ in Los Angeles, age 30, noted as a salesman and  Republican on the Voter’s Rolls. He was living at 651 W. 42nd Place. Is this ‘our’ Max? We posted previously about this mystery and still cannot determine if these are two different men or just one with an alter ego, or in the process of becoming an actor. Having the same address on his publicity photo as what we expect might be a different man is now quite puzzling.

BROIDA_Max-as Buster Brodie_portrait_reducedWill Max’s slightly-more-than-Mona-Lisa-smile in 1924 give us more of a clue?

Here’s Max on 25 July 1930:

John Jacob/Zelig Broida and his seven sons. From left- front sitting- Max Broida, standing- Phillip Broida, Joseph J. Broida, Morris Broida, Louis Broida, Theodore Broida, Harold Broida. Sitting on right- John J. "Zelig" Broida.
John Jacob/Zelig Broida and his seven sons. From left- front sitting- Max Broida, standing- Phillip Broida, Joseph J. Broida, Morris Broida, Louis Broida, Theodore Broida, Harold Broida. Sitting on right- John J. “Zelig” Broida. Taken 24 July 1930 when John “Zelig” Broida returned from Israel for a visit. Family photo.

Sure hope there are some California family members out there who can give us a bit more insight into the life of Max Broida and/or Buster Brodie.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Use our search box to find other posts about Max Broida/ Buster Brodie.
  2. Photos from the Family Treasure Chest.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Sentimental Sunday: Max Broida

BROIDA_Max-as Buster Brodie_portrait_reduced
Max Broida as Buster Brodie- “The Hairless Man,” c1924. In possession of author.

Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

Sometimes, one falls in love with an ancestor.

Probably, only die-hard family historians truly understand this statement.

But it happens.

For me, Max Broida is one of those ancestors.

It started out as one of those quiet relationships. A casual acquaintance, when as a newly married-in, I asked about the family history.

The picture of “The Seven Brothers” was brought out, and there sat John Broida, the patriarch, surrounded by his dashing seven adult sons. They all looked so handsome in their suits, all of them tailored to a “T” since so many of them were in the men’s fine clothing business. They were serious looking- Max too. But his professional demeanor totally belied what I would learn many years later.

Gertrude (Broida) Cooper, the daughter of one of those dashing sons (Philip Edwin Broida), could name all her uncles, and tell about their family life: wives, children, grandchildren, where they lived, and even businesses. She had an astonishing memory, and attention to detail. She too always looked ‘dashing’- if that word can be used for a woman- as she also was in the clothing business, but fine women’s clothes. She always dressed up and put on her makeup and her heels; she colored her hair a bright red until her very later years, when she softened the color but she would always be a beloved carrothead to me.

Gertrude did not know much about her Uncle Max. She told us that he had worked in movies in Hollywood using the name Buster Brodie, and that he was completely hairless- did not even have eyebrows. She didn’t know the names of any films he was in. He was very short, but so were the majority of the family, being Eastern European. He did not marry. That was about all to the story.

Other family members did not know much about Max either- some even thought that their ‘movie star’ relative was a figment of their father’s imagination! (You doubting children know who you are.)

As a good family historian, of course it is important to document collateral relatives, plus sometimes you can find more information about your direct line. So I delved into the history of each of the seven brothers and their families. And when I got to Max, it happened.

Not much came up in the Google search years ago, but that made him more intriguing, a bit mysterious. Of course, that also made him a challenge- you know, hard to get. Others might have backed down, but not me- Max became more attractive, and it became hard to stop running after him. (Yes, my husband does know…)

It was probably about 2 or 3am one research session when I realized what had happened. I was putting together a filmography for Max, and began watching clips or even whole movies where he might have had just a bit part. He was little and cute. He was enthusiastic. He played silly roles with a completely straight face. He had a funny little voice. Sometimes he seemed an underdog. But he was mesmerizing to me. I couldn’t stop watching. It seemed like he wanted his audience to laugh and be happy, and that was happening to me.

I was addicted. I had to know more about him. The passion ramped up.

So I wrote posts, and the blog became cousin bait. Well, actually we didn’t find cousins, but people who had pictures of Max, knowledge of Max, and interest in Max found us. (Putting a portrait on Max’s Find A Grave memorial helped too.) These folks so kindly shared! I felt like we were breathing life back into Max.

I did more research, and wrote more, and was so pleased to hear back from cousins that they were excited to learn that Max was REAL! They were amazed to learn that he had run away to be in the circus as a young boy or man, and did vaudeville after he tried working in business with family. Apparently a settled family business life just didn’t work for him, so he headed west, to Hollywood. The movie studios were becoming a big business in the 1920s, and talkies appeared; Max wanted to be a part of it all. With a bald head, he probably was happy to get to sunny SoCal and leave the miserable Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania winters behind.

Max never had big parts, usually not even big movies. The two most memorable are in the Wizard of Oz, where he was a Flying Monkey, so we can’t even tell which one he was. He also was in what is still a cult movie, Paramount’s 1932 film, “Island of the Lost Souls.” He had an amazing makeup job in that film: as “The Pig Man,” Max as Broida would be unrecognizable. Part of the reason the film is still popular is because it was the first to use sophisticated ‘monster’ makeup. It is also macabre, and even friends who like scary movies say it was creepy and scary. I could never get through it. In fact, the above portrait found on eBay had another offered by the same seller showing “The Pig Man” in makeup but in a regular shirt. That picture sold as well (but not to me), as did a number of other stills from the movie.

Reverse of Max Broida, as Buster Brodie. Probably a publicity photo.
Reverse of Max Broida, as Buster Brodie. Probably a publicity photo, c. 1924. Owned by author.

I was really excited to see this delightful portrait show up in my automatic eBay searches, since we really don’t have any decent images of Max as an adult other than the “Seven Brothers” picture. The seller had a ridiculous price on it, but all week Max let me know I needed to procure this for the family.  I was just compelled… and I won it.

I was so thrilled to get the picture, and turn it over. The eBay listing had not included an image of the back, nor even mentioned that there was anything on the reverse. (I hadn’t wanted to ask questions and risk others deciding to bid.) I felt like I had won the lottery! I had Max in my house, and with all the info on the back, I knew a whole lot more about him.

This was likely a publicity photo that Max shopped around, trying to get even bit parts. The handsome man in the picture with the slight smile completely hides the zaniness he could exhibit in some of his acting roles, such as in,”Groovy Movie.” To think of him as Buster Brown (advertising shoes), or a circus clown… well, I just can’t call him ‘Buster’ even though that is how he reported himself to census takers. And I don’t want to think of him as “Pigman” at all.

So thanks, Max, for being a crazy family historian’s passion for a while now, and for surprising me with a treasure every now and then. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, wherever you are. xoxoxo

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Thanks to Steve Cox, who wrote, The Munchkins Remember, EP Dutton, 1988, and documented that Max was a Flying Monkey in “The Wizard of Oz.” Steve also shared what he knew about Max and ‘the little people.’
  2. Thanks also to Frank Reighter and his compadres at the Three Stooges Fan Club, who provided some obits and Max’s death certificate.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Workday Wednesday: They just don’t make ’em like this anymore…

Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

Rereading the obituary of Buster Broida/ Max Broida, it is sad to think that he ended up mostly alone, selling paramutual tickets at the racetrack in between acting jobs, just to pay the bills. There was a brighter side of Hollywood, however, and Max likely saw some of that in the movies as he worked to make them. (Can you imagine being on the set of , “The Wizard of Oz”?) Most of our other ancestors of the 20th century- those who went to the movies- saw this bright side too, and it definitely helped them get through the challenging years of the Depression and World War II. Mary Helbling McMurray talked of going to the movies with her girlfriends after work, and they loved these types of films.

What would these folks think of today’s music? There are now so many musical genres that they couldn’t have even imagined, with our electronic instruments and looser moral code. (Christian gangsta rap???) Much of their music was considered risqué or not appropriate for refined young ladies and gentlemen in their time, too.

We also need to consider the context of their times- it was ‘shocking’ back then to see Shirley Temple dancing with a black servant, though made more okay since she was a little girl and the darling of America. Glad that most of us are past that today. (Can’t believe it had to be ‘most of us’ instead of just the all-inclusive, “we.”)

Here is an earlier version featuring Fred Astaire, not a mix of many films:

I’ll bet Buster Brodie could ‘cut a rug.’ Take a look at how much rhythm he has in “Groovy Movie” as they dance the jitterbug. (Buster is the piano player.)

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Slate article- http://www.slate.com/articles/video/video/2015/11/mashup_of_uptown_funk_and_hollywood_golden_era_movie_dancing_video.html
  2. 66 Old Movie Dance Scenes- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F0lBnsnkE
  3.  Fred Astaire with “Uptown Funk.”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb3VTnuuuRI
  4. “Groovy Movie”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbaNYWkQYYA

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Sunday’s Obituary: Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie

Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie, Obituary from the American Jewish Putlook, vol. 27, no. 21, page 26, columns 1-2, via Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie-Mellon University, with kind permission for non-profit use only.
Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie, Obituary from the American Jewish Putlook, vol. 27, no. 21, page 26, columns 1-2, via Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie-Mellon University, with kind permission for non-profit use only.

Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

One more obituary for Max Broida, published in his hometown religious newspaper. Note that he was listed as Max (Buster) Brodie, not Broida. His death certificate notes his name as Buster Brodie.

Use the “Search” box to view more obituaries for Max and stories and pictures of his life.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See image caption.
  2. Buster would have laughed his infectious laugh to see this website about his net worth- http://richestcelebrities.org/richest-actors/buster-brodie-net-worth-2/
  3. “A Doctor’s Diary” from 1937- original Buster post updated with the clip available at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvLWOxyiah0.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Wishful Wednesday: The Circus is in Town!

School not to be dismissed for the circus. Marion Daily Star, Marion, Ohio, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, P 12. Used with permission.
School not to be dismissed for the circus. Marion Daily Star, Marion, Ohio, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, P 12. Used with permission. (Click to enlarge.)

Broida Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

The circus coming to town generated lots of excitement throughout the centuries, even through the first quarter of the 20th century. In times when the major public entertainments were lecturers, singers, some stage theater, and finally silent movies (until 1927 when ‘talkies’ were introduced), the circus brought exotic people, titilating costumes, wild animals, and daring acts to even small towns throughout the land. The circus parade through town as the people, equipment, and animals were unloaded was a fabulous advertising gimmick to get the town wishing to attend, and ready to rush in to buy tickets and explore the shows.

We know the appeal of the circus affected our wishful ancestors, with at least two of them- Max Broida/Buster Brodie and Jefferson Springsteen- running off to join the circus when young. Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie in Hollywood, was likely a performer since he later became an actor; he possibly was a clown as he was very short and very bald, even when young. We do not know what Jefferson Springsteen did as a young man in the circus, however. He was a painter later in life, so perhaps he painted signs, backdrops, etc. Jeff was a good rider as a young man- he delivered mail on horseback through the wilds of early Indiana, so possibly he was a part of the trick riders found in most circuses. It would be great to know more about what they did in the circus- their stories of those times must have been amazing!

We had ancestors in Marion, Ohio (Beerbowers)  in 1923, so they would have possibly been a part of this excitement. Those in rural areas would come into town as well, so the circus was a huge community event. Countless more of our ancestors in other towns enjoyed the circus through the years, whether they had seats at a show, wandered through the aisles of the set up circus, or just watched the parade in town.

Old movies show young boys skipping school to go watch the circus set up, but even those children still sitting at their desks likely had their minds elsewhere- and maybe even their teachers did too! So this 1923 article from the Marion Daily Star in Marion, Ohio, gives us a hint at how important circus days were to a town.

Apparently there were requests to close down the school on circus parade day, but the school board thought they would instead follow what had occurred in previous years: parents could write a note to excuse their student to attend the circus. (Can you imagine that in today’s world of high-stakes education??) The board was smart though, as students would likely have more interest in geography and biology after seeing an elephant in person with its exotic Indian trainer, or a tiger jumping through hoops of fire. (Good teachers would have taken advantage of this too.) Persons from around the globe would have been part of the circus as well, and learning more about a ‘Chinaman’ or African pygmy would have been a way to teach students about diversity in a world where little of that existed at that time. (It was probably more of a novelty than diversity training, however.)

Those who didn’t have the pennies to attend the circus were not forgotten- the schools would be notified when the parade started, and students would be allowed to attend the parade before continuing their studies in the afternoon.

April 25, 1923, must have been a very exciting day for our wishful ancestors in Marion, Ohio!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) School not to be dismissed for the circus. Marion Daily Star, Marion, Ohio, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, P 12. Used with permission.

2) Max Broida/Buster Brodie and the circus: The Real Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie at http://heritageramblings.net/2015/04/10/the-real-max-broida-aka-buster-brodie/

http://heritageramblings.net/2015/04/10/the-real-max-broida-aka-buster-brodie/

3) Jefferson Springsteen and the circus: There are three parts to the series concerning Jeff’s obituary that includes the circus story- see Wishful Wednesday: Jefferson Springsteen was “Lured by the Sawdust Ring…” at http://heritageramblings.net/2014/10/08/wishful-wednesday-jefferson-springsteen-was-lured-by-the-sawdust-ring/ for the first post.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.