Isaac Ullman

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Isaac Ullman

Isaac Wise Ullman (born January 4, 1873 in Natchez, Mississippi; died October 30, 1947 in Birmingham) was a film distributor and magazine publisher and distributor.

Isaac was the third son born to hardware dealer Samuel Ullman and his wife, Emma. He moved with the family to Birmingham in 1890. Five years later, he moved to New York City on his own, seeking a business position. In 1898 he was assigned to manage the Ward Electric Supply & Construction Co. on behalf of its creditors. On January 17, 1899 he was married to Elizabeth Abbott in Northampton, Massachusetts. The couple shared an apartment with her widowed mother in the South Bronx. He operated a contracting business, the I. W. Ullman Company, from an office in the American Tract Society Building in Manhattan. His company negotiated a contract to install and maintain lights for the city of Meridian, Mississippi, and filed a lawsuit for $138,200 in damages when the city backed out.

In 1907 Ullman partnered with Charles Dressler as the Consolidated Film Company of New York, a distributor of low-cost motion pictures to nickelodeons and burlesque houses. They reorganized as the Film Import & Trading Company in 1909. In 1910 the New York Circuit Court of the Southern District ruled that Ullman had infringed on copyrights belonging to the Edison Film Company. By 1913, as manager of Duplex Motion Picture Industries, he was operating a means of circumventing U.S. Customs regulations against the import of foreign boxing films. He would erect a tent over the Canadian border line, project the imported reel on the Canadian side and re-photograph it on the U.S. side. In 1915 he was partners with Theo Goldenberg in GNU Enterprises, which produced films. By 1918 he was also partnered with Gorham Tufts and John McKay in the Oceanic Steel Corporation; and employed as general manager of the Brookside Coal Co. of Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

The Ullmans visited Birmingham in 1920 for Samuel Ullman's 80th birthday. During that visit, Jonas Rosenfield, husband of Isaac's sister Carolyn, offered Isaac work in real estate in Dallas, Texas, which he accepted, moving into the Rosenfield's house with Elizabeth. In 1926 Ullman returned to New York City and entered into business with a cousin, Maurice Falter, as circulation manager for the Eastern Distributing Corporation. In 1930 he partnered with Walter Hubbard Jr and Alicia Rae Roberts as the Hubbard-Ullman Publishing Corporation, later renamed the Brookwood Publishing Company with the addition of Frank Temerson. The company published, printed and distributed a variety of "lowbrow" magazines and comic books.

By 1935 Ullman and Temerson had re-incorporated, as Ultem Publications, with offices in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Samuel Campbell, co-owner of C & A Publications, Magazine Publishers Inc., and the Kable News Company, was vice-president of the firm. By November, they had moved to offices in Manhattan. The company published several pulp magazines, including Modern Movies, Movie Stars Handies, Movie Humor, High Heel Magazine, and Silk Stocking.. Through Centaur Comics, Ultem and C & A together published Star Comics, Star Ranger, and Funny Pages comic books. Temerson launched other publishing companies, including Et-Es-Go Magazines and Continental Magazines, which shared executives and staff with Ultem.

Isaac retired in 1945 and returned to Birmingham with Elizabeth. She died in 1946 and he followed in 1947. They are buried at Cemetery Emanu-El.


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