Profile Updated: October 28, 2017
Residing In: Berkeley, CA USA
Occupation: Author, Historian, Building Contractor
Yes! Attending Reunion

I just released a new book "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty." (ISBN 978-0-9678204-5-3) I want to share with my CHS classmates. It is the amazingly dramatic biography of Jewish immigrant actor M. B. Curtis who was suddenly catapulted to fame and fortune by performing the role of a Jewish immigrant "drummer" (a traveling salesman) beginning in 1880. He was the first Jewish male to be allowed to portray a Jewish male character on stage in American theatre history. (at the time African Americans, Asian Americans and Jewish Americans were not allowed to represent themselves on stage). Curtis broke that barrier for all ethnic groups and a flood of ethnic comedy theatrical plays followed his breakthrough. He performed often at a number of Philadelphia theaters.

His life is story of great success and great disappointments, Curtis rose to stardom using his charisma and comedic talents to overcome common stereotypes and prejudices of the time. But his influence spread beyond the stage. As an immigrant, he couldn’t bear to see the Statue of Liberty go unlit due to congressional deadlock immediately after its dedication, so he paid to have it lit himself. In addition to paying back the country that welcomed him and his family, Curtis had a dramatic impact on the mainstream culture of the day, so much so that Mark Twain asked him to star in a rare stage rendition of one of his books. Curtis then became a pioneer in the nascent silent-film industry, a producer, a real estate developer, a promoter, a hotelier, a benefactor, and a murder suspect. M. B. Curtis’s life encompassed the highs of celebrity and fame and the lows of failure, illness, and a faltering career. What defined him, however, was that he always followed his dreams even in the face of extreme adversity.
Using New York and later San Francisco as his home base, Curtis and his wife toured the country to great acclaim in the 1880s until being in San Francisco almost ended his life. The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty rescues M. B. Curtis’ story from the dust-covered archives of forgotten history and reexamines an actor whose creativity and cultural influence still resonate invisibly today.
The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty has been chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts Margaret Herrick Library to be included in their collection.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument Stores currently stock the book.
For further information on the book visit

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Apr 14, 2024 at 11:02 AM

If anyone is interested in history, here is a talk that reveals a rather mind-boggling look into what actually occurred in Berkeley and the Bay Area in 1900. I hope you enjoy these forgotten but significant stories.

Apr 14, 2024 at 10:51 AM

Robert, we live within blocks of each other and didn't know it. Its a great area isn't it. I am a historian and very much love it. Hope all is well for you Robert. Feel free to contact me through my website. and there is an email button there.
My Best,


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Mar 21, 2024 at 2:48 PM

Howie wrote in my yearbook, "Hey Rich, Best of luck always, to the champ, Howie." I was always humbled by that gift and the happy young man Howard Fatell. Rest in peace, Howard. We will keep your memories alive. 

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Mar 21, 2024 at 2:43 PM

I remember Elliot as a smiling guy who seemed to almost float about as his spirit seemed so light and happy. He was filled with his light energy and loved sharing it. He always came from a good place. I wish I knew what he became as a man if anyone can tell us. Rest easy Elliot. Your smiling spirit lives on in us. 

RICHARD SCHWARTZ has left an In Memory comment for Fredric Weitz.
Mar 21, 2024 at 2:38 PM

Fredrick was a good and solid young man at Central. He had a great and ready smile and a good heart. It is not surprising he went on to serve as an optometrist and loved helping people. That is indeed who he was. The world lost a good man in Fedrick but we will keep his memory alive and he will live through us. You were a loved and lucky man Fredrick. A life well lived.

RICHARD SCHWARTZ has left an In Memory comment for Robert Bernstein.
Jan 04, 2024 at 6:06 PM

I sure appreciated reading Bob's friends give him the praise and admiration he so well deserved. It made me realize how important his rosey-cheeked smile with his beaming personality to back it up was to so many of us...and in a lasting way. Good life Bobbie. My favorite memory of Booby was after we had graduated. At this point, he was going all around the city filling his gaming machines at all these mom-and-pop corner stores- Philly's lifeblood. I had moved to California and contacted Bobby to get together when I came back to visit. He was working and invited me to accompany him on his route. It was an important day in my life. He knew all these store owners of all nationalities and in so many locations I had never been in. I had wanted to tag along with him both to spend time together and see his life and neighborhoods I was never in, corners I had never walked, and corner stores I had never dreamed of. My Grandfather had a corner store in North Philly which we visited on Sundays. As a young kid I was almost overwhelmed with excitement knowing I would get to take home a comic book and some candy and see the cans stacked up in pyramids. So going around with Bobbie had deep roots for me. He explained why and how he did things. But it was his sincere and joyful (truly enjoying himself) interactions in these stores that really stuck with me. People from the neighborhood walked in and talked, kids skipped in all excited. Bobbie explained the meanings that different levels of toys left in the machines in different stores and I think even how he chose the prizes and how his experience helped him know his customers' preferences. Bobbie was just doing his thing like only he could do. He even explained to me how he would procure his stock of prizes for the machines and little details of the store owners or neighborhoods. I felt like I was a witness to something I could not hope to describe, but it was Bobbie through and through and it gave me this magical feel and experience of Philadelphia in its magnificent fullness...all led by the rosey-cheeked wonder. What a tour leader. I think now, after reading all these memories and tributes, that Bobby was much more of a tour leader of his wonderful soul than I had realized. Rest well Boobie. We will remember you always in the meantime. 




RICHARD SCHWARTZ has left an In Memory comment for Harry Doe.
Apr 16, 2023 at 12:27 PM



I knew Harry from the fencing team. He fenced with the weapon foil. He, even at that young age, was a self-contained person in control of himself and had great concentration. You could see it even when he practiced. He was a good and solid fencer who was depended upon by the team.

Harry put his all into what he did. This made him appear serious. (But Howard Ford told me that Harry had a great sense of humor as they passed in the CHS hallways, always popping a funny retort at Howard with a big and proud smile). 

I don't remember sitting down with Harry and getting to know him. But at the 50th reunion, I saw him walk in, with a very determined but happy gait across the hall. It was odd that in that moment I thought I finally "knew" him. He had blossomed inside, spiritually and such and he appeared like a spirit flower in bloom- something about his countenance made it clear he had found himself and nourished and honored that discovery. There was a quiet, knowing smile about him. 

I thought I sure would like to speak with him and hear about his life and journey, but I did not see him again at the reunion in the hall filled with so many. I intended to try and find his contact info and call him but I never found it. Now I am left to use the ethereal to try and reach him or maybe speak with his family and friends after a while. I know from that one glance at him at the reunion that Harry was a formidable man, spirit, human, family man...and had deep happiness (and knowing the toll for such happiness is to know, at the same time, deep sadness). I know he is infinitely missed but wish him more blessings in his inevitable journey and pray for understanding and acceptance for his family and friends still creating our earthly lives. 


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Dec 15, 2022 at 11:31 AM
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Dec 15, 2022 at 5:14 PM

Posted on: Dec 15, 2022 at 11:29 AM

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Dec 18, 2022 at 3:16 PM

Posted on: Dec 15, 2022 at 11:27 AM

This sounds so great Jeff. I am proud of you and thank you!
Richard Schwartz

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Feb 15, 2022 at 11:29 AM
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Feb 15, 2022 at 9:32 AM

Posted on: Feb 15, 2022 at 9:32 AM

Love of my life-2014
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Oct 28, 2017 at 3:54 AM
RICHARD SCHWARTZ has left an In Memory comment for Ronald Booth.
Feb 26, 2017 at 4:33 AM

Ron's joyous spirit preceeded him and lingers still. I can see him smiling lumbering down the hallway in that big way he had. Rest in Peace Ron. Keep smiling. And thanks.


Feb 26, 2017 at 3:38 AM

Hey Howard. Are your folks still on Williams Ave? What about your sister? The last I knew of you you were in the Tetons. Where are you now Howard? I would like to catch up about the 'ol block and am in touch with Howard Ford.

Feb 26, 2017 at 3:05 AM
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Feb 26, 2017 at 2:39 AM