introductory note from Rich
Samuels: These days Sam Zell is is best know for his controversial stewardship of the Tribune Company of which he is chairman. But in the fall of 1995 Zell
made headlines as part of a group that was attempting (unsuccesfully)
to purchase Rockefeller Center. On October 18th of 1995, I put together
a brief profile of Sam that aired on WTTW's "Chicago
Tonight" program. In the course of researching the piece,
I concluded that the story of the Zell family's escape from Poland
on the eve of World War II was more compelling than Sam's emergence
as one of the nation's principal real estate tycoons. Hopefully
I'll have the occasion to tell that story in greater detail. Click
here to watch the video (you'll need RealPlayer). But scroll
the material below as well.
Sam Zell in his Chicago office in October, 1995.
Sam Zell's photo as it appeared in the 1959 Highland Park High School
yearbook. Sam was born in Chicago in September of 1941. But he was
conceived in Yokohama, Japan in January of that year, during the
course of the flight of his parents and older sister Julie from
their native Polish town of Sosnowiec. (The Zielonka (later Zell)
family evaded the Nazis by moving east across the USSR, eventually
sailing to the United States in May of 1941). The caption of the
yearbook photo reads "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you".
Ted Repsholdt, Sam Zell's advisor at Highland Park High School.
(Ted was also one of the North Shore's earliest civil rights activists)
Bernard Zell, Sam Zell's father, as he appeared in his immigration
documents in 1941. He changed his name from Berek Zielonka after
settling in Chicago ("Maybe Zell will ring the bell",
he is quoted as having said).
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Rochelle Zell, Sam's mother, as she appeared on her immigration
Rich Samuels (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)