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Simon J. Silverman
May 19, 1873
Cortland, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 23, 1933 (aged 60)|
|Known for||Founder, owner and publisher of Variety|
|Spouse(s)||Harriet Freeman (m. 1889)|
|Relatives||Syd Silverman (grandson)|
Simon J. "Sime" Silverman (May 19, 1873 – September 23, 1933) was an American journalist and newspaper publisher best known as the founder of the weekly Variety in New York in 1905 and the Hollywood-based Daily Variety in 1933. During his career, Silverman was known as the "oracle of show business, the sworn foe of grammar, and the man who never let anyone pay a check." In 1934, he headed a list in Time magazine of the "ten modern Americans who have done most to keep American jargon alive".
Silverman, born in Cortland, New York, the third child of Louis and Rachel (née Ganz) Silverman, began as a journalist in 1903 for the Daily America and wrote under the nom-de-plume "The Man in the Third Row". After the Daily America dissolved, he later joined The Morning Telegraph but was fired in 1905 for a notice on a new sketch played by Mrs. Stuart Robson at Proctor's 58th Street theatre where the review mentioned the sketch was n.g. (no good). He was not aware that Mrs. Robson had given the Telegraph an advertising contract for $50. Despite suggesting that since the sketch was n.g., that might make the contract n.g., too, as Mrs. Robson wouldn't advertise what she couldn't play, the owner did not like the suggestion. Silverman decided that he would have to start his own paper in order to be able to tell the truth.
With a loan of $1,500 from his father-in-law, Alderman George Freeman of Syracuse, he launched Variety as publisher and editor. He passed the editorship to Abel Green in 1931 but remained as publisher until his death soon after launching the Daily.
Silverman married Harriett "Hattie" Freeman in 1889. Their son Sidne (1901–1950), known as Sid or "Skigie", succeeded him as publisher of both publications. Both Sidne and his wife, stage actress Marie Saxon (1905–1942), died of tuberculosis. Their only son, Syd, born in 1932, was the only heir to what was then known as Variety, Inc.
In 1920, Silverman purchased an old brownstone building at 154 West 46th Street in New York, which became the Variety headquarters until its sale and demolition in 1988.
Silverman suffered from a bronchial condition and had travelled to California for the past two winters before his death for health reasons.
Silverman died on September 23, 1933 at the Ambassador Hotel (Los Angeles) from a lung hemorrhage. He was 60 years old. His body was found by the editor of Daily Variety, Arthur Ungar, who apparently suffered a mild heart attack on finding the body.
- "Sime Silverman, founder of 'Variety,' Dies Suddenly in Hollywood at 60". Variety. September 26, 1933. p. 1.
- "Oracle of Show Business Dies Suddenly in Hotel Leaving Unique Records". Evening Independent. September 23, 1933. p. 1
- "Press: Doctor & Duke". Time. January 15, 1934. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- "How "Variety" Happened". Variety. December 30, 1925. p. 8
- "Veteran 'Variety' Mugg Gives Some Inside Stuff on Sime's Starting 'V'". Variety. September 26, 1933. p. 3.
- "Inside Variety" Madrid: Ars Millenii, 2000, by Peter Besas.
- "Lord Broadway: Variety's Sime". New York: Wilfred Funk, 1941.
- Sime Silverman — Infoplease.com at www.infoplease.com
- Sime's Site http://www.simesite.net. (website set up in honor of Sime Silverman and Silverman era ex-employees)