Seymour Greene, 97, musician, entertained World War II troops
On Sept. 27, 97-year-old Seymour Greene of Potomac was buried; he died the previous day. He was an amazing musician, and a warm and wonderful mensch.
I loved talking with him about his service during World War II as a trombone player in Irving Berlin’s band. He was a walking history lesson, and he relived those stories with such passion and humor that it was impossible not to be swept away and feel that you’re living in that historic time.
Born Seymour Goldfinger, he was drawn to music at an early age, and excelled in playing the trumpet and trombone. During World War II, he was drafted as a musician, and earned his corporal’s stripes six months into his Army service when he played first trombone in the 1942 Broadway hit “This is the Army.”
The show’s 50-piece orchestra was made up entirely of soldiers. The band’s purpose was to raise funds for the Army Emergency Relief and raise the GIs’ morale. Directed by Irving Berlin, the band toured internationally, performing before tens of thousands of soldiers who fought in the European and Pacific theaters.
Greene described vividly how the show attracted long lines and packed audiences. Though not a combat operation, the show carried its own risks. During one performance in Italy, a member of the cleaning crew discovered a bomb in the basement of the theater shortly before show time.
In another instance, Japanese snipers opened fire on band. After military police returned fire and the snipers were killed, Greene discovered that his trombone had been damaged. So he improvised by borrowing a piece from a local band, got his instrument to work, and the show resumed. The soldiers went wild, cheering and swaying to the music, and he couldn’t have been happier.
He was also a fighter for justice. During a time of segregation in America, he was proud to serve in a racially integrated unit in the Army.
He told me that everyone in the show felt strongly about this issue. If they arrived at a city or camp that was segregated, and the African-American cast members were told they would have to sleep and eat separately, the whole cast would join the African-American soldiers in the “colored” barracks. “If you’re going to separate us, then we are all black,” he told the hosts.
After his service, he became an accountant, and worked for the IRS for several decades. All the while, he continued playing the trombone in large and small ensembles, including orchestras and klezmer bands. He was proud that he had the chance to play in the inaugural balls of presidents from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.
He was the beloved husband of the late Ann Eleanor “Ellie” Greene; loving father of Robin (David) Sacks, Laurie (Joel) Dorfman and the late Jacquelin “Jackie” Fischer; dear grandfather of Aaron (Melanie), Jacob and Deborah Sacks and William and Daniel Dorfman; great-grandfather of Ethan Sacks. Contributions may be made to Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim, 1840 University Blvd. W., Silver Spring, MD 20902
Shamai Leibowitz is a Hebrew teacher and the Torah reader at Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim
Monty Hall, original host of ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ dies at 96
Monty Hall, the friendly and engaging host of the long-running television game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” has died.
Hall died of heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sept. 30 at the age of 96. He had a heart attack in June shortly after his wife of almost 70 years died, and had been ill ever since.
In addition to hosting, Hall was the co-creator of the game show, in which contestants vie to trade smaller prizes with the host for a chance at something bigger behind a curtain or in a box. At the end of the show, the two biggest winners of the day compete for prizes behind three doors.
Hall reportedly appeared in more than 4,500 episodes of the show, which remains on the air with Wayne Brady as host. He hosted the show for 23 years until 1986, and for a short time in 1991.
A probability brain teaser was named after the game-show host. The “Monty Hall Problem,” which ends with a counterintuitive solution, includes three doors, two goats, and a car.
Hall received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1973. He received a lifetime achievement awards at the Daytime Emmys in 2013.
Hall reportedly was a philanthropist. His family told CNN that he helped to raise close to $1 billion for charity during his life and that he spent about 200 days a year in fundraisers and charitable work.
A dual American and Canadian citizen, Hall was born Monte Halparin in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Orthodox Jewish parents.
—JTA News and Features
Billionaire media mogul S.I. Newhouse Jr.
.I. Newhouse Jr., the billionaire media mogul who ran dozens of magazines and newspapers, died at the age of 89.
Newhouse, the grandson of Russian immigrants who was known as “Si” but whose initials stand for Samuel Irving, died Sunday at his home in Manhattan.
Newhouse and his brother Donald owned Advance Publications, founded by their late father in 1922. Newhouse since 1975 ran the magazine division, known as Conde Nast, which publishes signature magazines such as Vogue, Glamour, Self, GQ, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker.
—JTA News and Features
Steven L. Eisenberg
Steven L. Eisenberg, of Olney, died Sept. 27. He was the beloved husband of Michele Eisenberg; loving brother of David Eisenberg. Contributions can be made to the Mayo Foundation for research of Lewy Body Disease, ASPCA, Alzheimer’s Disease Association or Women’s American ORT. Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.
Mildred Meltzer, of Rockville, died Sept. 29. She was the beloved wife of the late Solomon Meltzer. Contributions can be made to Alzheimer’s Association. Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.