BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Literary Festival invites everyone to join them on Friday, March 10, at 5 p.m., when their Literary Cocktail Hour presents Helene Stapinski and Bonnie Siegler to discuss their book The American Way: A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe. Register to join this online conversation at bit.ly/LitCocktail28.
In this real-life adventure, the publisher of DC Comics comes to the rescue of a family trying to flee Nazi Berlin, their lives linking up with a cast of 20th-century icons, all eagerly pursuing the American dream.
Family lore had it that Siegler's grandfather crossed paths with Marilyn Monroe in Midtown Manhattan late one night in 1954, her white dress flying up around her as she filmed a scene for The Seven Year Itch. Jules Schulback had his home movie camera with him, capturing what is perhaps the only surviving footage of that legendary night.
Siegler says she wasn't sure she quite believed her grandfather's story until, cleaning out his apartment, she found the film reel. The discovery would prompt her to investigate all of her grandfather's seemingly tall tales - and lead her in pursuit of a remarkable piece of forgotten history bridging old Hollywood, the birth of the comic book, and the Holocaust.
The American Way is a story of two men, both striving to make their way in New York, their lives intersecting with an array of well-known personalities, from Billy Wilder and Joe DiMaggio to Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.
One often-quoted review calls it a “kaleidoscopic tale of hope and reinvention, of daring escapes and fake identities, of big dreams and the magic of movies, and what it means to be a real-life Superman.”
Stapinski is the bestselling author of three memoirs: Five-Finger Discount, Murder in Matera, and Baby Plays Around. She writes regularly for The New York Times; her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, New York, Travel & Leisure, and dozens of other publications. She teaches at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.
Siegler is the founder and creative director of award-winning, multi-disciplinary graphic design studio Eight and a Half. The author of Dear Client, a guide for people who work with creatives, and Signs of Resistance, a history of protest in America, she taught design in the graduate schools of Yale University and the School of Visual Arts for many years. She lives in Connecticut.