Donald S. Klopfer

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Donald S. Klopfer
Born Donald S. Klopfer
(1902-01-01)January 1, 1902
New York, New York
Died May 30, 1986(1986-05-30) (aged 84)
New York, New York
Occupation Publisher
Language English
Alma mater Williams College
(did not graduate)
Spouse Marian Annsbacker
Florence Selwyn (193_–71)
Kathleen (Katie) Scofield Louchheim (1981–his death)
Children Charles A. Wimpfheimer (Step)
Lois Levy

Donald Simon Klopfer (1902 – May 30, 1986) was an American publisher, one of the founders of American publishing firm Random House, along with Bennett Cerf. Klopfer was the quiet inside businessman to Cerf's quite-visible and gregarious "Mr. Outside" personality.


Klopfer's step-father was a diamond cutter in Newark, and Klopfer was working there when Cerf called to offer him a half interest in a publishing business in return for a $100,000 investment.[1] In 1925 Cerf and Donald Klopfer formed a partnership to purchase the rights to the Modern Library from Boni & Liveright, and they went into business for themselves.[1] They increased the series' popularity, and in 1927 began publishing general trade books which they had selected "at random." Thus began their publishing business, which in time they named Random House. It used as its logo a little house drawn by Cerf's friend and fellow Columbia alumnus Rockwell Kent.[2] Cerf's talent in building and maintaining relationships brought contracts with such writers as William Faulkner, John O'Hara, Eugene O'Neill, James Michener, Truman Capote, Theodor Seuss Geisel, and others.

Cerf and Klopfer were both prominent Jewish businessmen, and in 1967 Klopfer resigned from the American Council for Judaism after the Council issued a statement which Klopfer and other Jewish leaders found to be repugnant.[3]

Cerf retired in 1970, with Klopfer succeeding him as Chairman, only to retire himself in 1975.[1] Before his death Klopfer was awarded an honorary degree by Williams College in spite of never having completed his degree requirements.[1] Klopfer's first wife died in 1971, and a decade later Klopfer married the well-known writer and Democratic political activist Katie Louchheim.[4]

Klopfer died at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York, New York, on May 30, 1986, aged 84.[1] Klopfer was survived by his second wife, a step-son and a daughter (both by his first wife).[1] Random House published a book of collected World War II letters titled Dear Donald, Dear Bennett: the wartime correspondence of Donald Klopfer and Bennett Cerf which is still in print as of 2013.


  • Dear Donald, Dear Bennett: the wartime correspondence of Donald Klopfer and Bennett Cerf (New York: Random House, 2002). ISBN 0-375-50768-X.


  1. ^ a b c d e f New York Times Obituary, retrieved November 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Cerf, Bennett. At Random. New York: Random House, 1977. p. 65
  3. ^ Five Prominent Jews Repudiate Position of American Council for Judaism, July 20, 1967; retrieved November 4, 2013.
  4. ^ Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 5, Page 397, retrieved November 4, 2013.

External links[edit]

  • Donald Klopfer interviewed by Lucy Rosenthal for the Fall, 1984 issue of The Missouri Review.