Helene Stapinski and Bonnie SieglerFeb 14, 2023
The American Way
A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe
Simon & Schuster 2023
In The American Way: A True Story of Nazi Escape, Superman, and Marilyn Monroe (Simon & Schuster, 2023) Helene Stapinski and Bonnie Siegler tell how the publisher of DC Comics comes to the rescue of a family trying to flee 1930s Berlin, their lives linking up with a dazzling cast of 20th century icons, all eagerly pursing the American dream. Family lore had it that Siegler’s grandfather crossed paths in Midtown Manhattan late one night in 1954 with Marilyn Monroe, her white dress flying up around her as she filmed a scene for The Seven Year Itch. An amateur filmmaker, Jules Schulback had his camera with him, capturing what would become the only surviving footage of that legendary night. Bonnie wasn’t sure she quite believed her grandfather’s story…until, cleaning out his apartment, she found the film reel. That discovery would prompt her to reconsider all of her grandfather’s seemingly tall tales—and lead her in pursuit of a rema rkable, poignant piece of forgotten history bridging old Hollywood, the birth of the comic book, and the Holocaust.
The American Way is a vivacious story of two very different men both striving to make their way in New York, their lives intersecting with a glittering array of luminaries, from Billy Wilder and Joe DiMaggio to Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. It’s 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.
Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.