Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Carl Laemmle Presents"

A short film from the Exhibit in Germany honoring Carl Laemmle, Universal's founder on his 150th birthday!

All the monsters sing and they are very artistically rendered; I like the bike flying into the sky at the end -- a reference to ET -- because now Spielberg calls Universal home. But it all started with Carl, or Uncle Carl, as he liked to be called, by everyone, not just family.
Deborah Blum (me) with my partner in filmmaking and life, Warren Blum
and our fearless daughter, Esther, who we took out of school for two weeks
so she could attend the opening of this exhibit with us.

The Museum of History in the center of town, near the Opera House.
Carl Laemmle Presents (German Interview with Museum Director)

Carl Laemmle Presents Exhibit at the Haus Geschichte Museum in Stuttgart
(link to Museum site - can be translated to English)

The exhibit runs through July 2017. If you are near the lovely city of Stuttgart in Southern Germany (only an hour or so west of Munich) all you need to do is stop in at the Haus de Geschichte, Baden-Wuttemberg.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


My grandfather's cousin, YOU, Carl Laemmle, passed away in 1939.
Your 150th birthday was yesterday, January 17, 2017. 
So, happy birthday, Uncle Carl!!!
Thank you for founding Universal Studios, the longest continually-operating motion picture studio in the U.S. -- that has given us so many great films, including ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 
and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Not to mention FRANKENSTEIN. And so many others... 
Indeed, Universal has grown into a mighty oak from the seeds you planted. 
With your generous spirit, you gave my grandfather his first job in the U.S. 
And you for saved Jews from Nazi Germany.
Of course, you probably gave my grandfather a job because you thought he'd be a great salesman, but my family is happy you gave him his start.
From there he went on to found the Laemmle Theater chain with his brother, Max.
I wish I could have met you...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


From HUMANS OF BETH AM blog of Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles, CA: 

The Temple Beth Am and Library Minyan communities offer me spiritual guidance and nourishment as I engage in an arduous journey to uncover my family’s history, and shape a compelling documentary. The story weaves together Nazi-era German Jews and the motion picture industry. It is a story about Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Studios and how he saved Jews from the holocaust.
Thank you to Beth Am, the Library Minyan, and Pressman Academy for providing spaces for my family and me to find community, peace and inspiration. Peace from prayer balances me, and gives me wisdom to act in a careful, confident manner. We have made many wonderful friends at Temple Beth Am.
Growing up in Santa Monica and attending the Westwood “Free” Minyan at UCLA Hillel, I knew only that my grandfather’s cousin founded Universal Studios. I watched films at the Laemmle Theatres, started by my grandfather, Kurt Laemmle, and his brother, Max, and worked at the Monica Theaters in Santa Monica. At Brown University, I studied history, film, painting and photography; and then became a Waldorf teacher, and taught in New York, Kenya and the San Fernando Valley.
When I began researching Carl Laemmle’s life, spending hours in the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, just down the street from Pressman and Beth Am, I soon realized that my uncle Carl Laemmle’s efforts to save Jews from Nazi Germany would make a fantastic documentary film. Carl Laemmle was a devoted Jew, who never abandoned his faith. He was a motion picture industry pioneer, who battled Thomas Edison in court and paved the way for independent filmmakers. He founded the longest, continually-operating studio in Hollywood; and was a champion of human rights, perhaps Hollywood’s greatest humanitarian.
He did not leave a list of the Jews he saved, but by his account the number was several hundred. It is a great thing to learn about one’s family; but because Carl Laemmle convinced the U.S. State Department to issue visas for approximately three hundred Jews from his native area of Baden-Wuttemberg, I feel it is my duty to share this story with the world.
As Carl Laemmle signed affidavits and saved Jews from Baden-Wuttemberg, my grandfather’s branch of the Laemmle family went through their own ordeal. My mother’s father, Kurt Laemmle, grew up in Stuttgart, Germany, and then left as a young man for America, where he worked at Universal Studios in distribution.
The Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
A place full of wonderful information about Hollywood History. I was able to find a lot of information about Carl Laemmle and Universal Studios here.
When Hitler became chancellor in 1933, Kurt decided to stay in the U.S. permanently, and wrote to his brother, Max, head of European distribution at Universal in Paris, expressing concern for their parents. Their father, Siegfried – my great-grandfather – a brilliant business man, who fought for Germany in World War I, and owned an oil and grease factory, refused to leave.
Kurt married Alyse and returned to Stuttgart on a “honeymoon.” In early 1938, they filled out papers for Kurt’s parents and left them at the Embassy. After Krysallnacht – and an incredible story of Siegfried feigning illness when the Gestapo came for him – Siegfried and Alice Laemmle sold their home and factory for pennies to the Nazis and shipped their antiques to Los Angeles, where they lived out their remaining days.
My grandparents, Alyse and Kurt
Laemmle. Kurt founded the Laemmle
Theaters with his brother, Max, in 1938.

My mother inherited those antiques; I never understood how my family could have saved furniture from Germany, while so many others perished in the Holocaust. I suppose we have Carl Laemmle to thank. He came first – arriving in 1884 – and paved the way for other Laemmle’s to learn the “film business” in America.
I understand now what my grandfather meant when he said: “Laemmle Luck!” Any European Jewish family that survived the Holocaust is lucky, but perhaps it is more appropriate to say, “It is a miracle from G-d.”
Sadly, I have also learned through my research that many of my grandfather’s cousins perished in concentration camps. I will say the Kaddish and remember them this High Holiday season. My husband, Warren, and daughter, Esther, will be there, as will my parents, Rabbi Susan Laemmle and John Antignas. Family strengthens us in the present, and one never knows where researching one’s past may lead! 
POSTED: OCT 7, 2016 on "Humans of Beth Am" at the Temple Beth Am website 
Temple Beth Am is a dynamic center for Concervative Judaism located in Los Angeles, California.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Alyse Laemmle - my amazing 100 year old grandmother

Out to lunch with Grandma. Just having some sangria at CPK! She is my mentor and inspiration. She's always been there for me. Thanks, G'ma! I love you!!