It’s Time for Romper Room! Do You Remember the Magic Mirror?

Do you remember Romper Room? If you are a baby boomer of a certain age, you probably do. Especially if you were a good Do Bee.

Well, one of Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s great-granddaughters was one of the creators of Romper Room, Nancy Goldman Claster, the granddaughter of Mollie Sigmund. She was my fourth cousin, once removed.

Mollie Sigmund and her husband Harry Goldman both died in 1941, leaving behind their three children: Leman Edwin Goldman, Marguerite Goldman, and Adele Goldman Weil. Marguerite died on April 29, 1953; she was 68. Marguerite had never married or had children.1

L. Edwin Goldman died the following year on February 7, 1954. He was seventy.2 His wife Rita Strauss Goldman had predeceased him; she died on October 10, 1952.3 Edwin and Rita were survived by their three children, Nancy, Robert, and Sue.

Nancy achieved a fair amount of fame along with her husband Bert Claster for creating the Romper Room children’s television show in the 1950s, in which Nancy starred as the first ever Romper Room teacher, Miss Nancy. The show started in Baltimore and then was syndicated all over the US with different women playing the teachers.

Since I grew up in the 1950s and watched Romper Room religiously as a preschooler, I was very excited to learn that my cousin Nancy had been one of the creators and stars of the program. You can read more about Nancy and Bert Claster and Romper Room in Nancy and Bert’s obituaries4 and here and here. 

And here is a wonderful video of my cousin Nancy being interviewed about Romper Room with some clips from her on Romper Room back in the 1950s:

Bert Claster died March 11, 1984; he was 73.5 Nancy died on April 25, 1997, at age 82.6 They were survived by their three children.

L. Edwin and Rita Goldman’s son Robert became a lawyer like his father. Here is just a small excerpt from the lengthy obituary written about “Robbie” Goldman when he died in May, 2015, at the age of 98:

Mr. Goldman earned a law degree in 1941 from the University of Maryland School of Law where he was first in his class and served as editor of the law review. He was also a member of the Order of the Coif at Maryland.

After completing the Naval Reserve training program at Columbia University in 1942, the young lieutenant joined the crew of the light cruiser USS St. Louis, assigned to the Pacific Theater.

As the ship’s communications officer, Mr. Goldman participated in some of the most historic battles of the Pacific, including the invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Saipan and Tinian.

He survived the torpedoing of the St. Louis during the Battle of Kolombangara, which damaged the vessel’s bow but caused no loss of life or serious casualties. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, the ship was attacked by kamikaze pilots that resulted in 15 crew members being killed.

Discharged in 1945, Mr. Goldman returned to Baltimore and joined his father’s law firm, Nyburg, Goldman & Walter, which in 1966 merged and became Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman. From 1966 to 1983, he was managing partner, and then of counsel from 1987 to 1992, when the firm was dissolved, and he joined DLA Piper, where he was of counsel until 2000.

The full obituary, which is filled with wonderfully laudatory quotations about Robert’s career as a lawyer and his personal attributes, can be found here.

L. Edwin and Rita’ Goldman’s third child was their daughter Sue. Although I could not locate a marriage record for Sue, her parents announced her engagement to Lee Norman Baker in the March 17, 1946, Baltimore Sun.7

Sue and Lee married and had three children together. Lee was a native of Baltimore also, born on May 30, 1915, to Charles and Nellie (Silberstein) Baker. In 1940, Lee was living with his parents and siblings in Baltimore where his father was a clothing manufacturer. Lee was working as a salesman in his father’s business. He then served as a captain in the US Army in Europe during World War II.8

Lee Norman Baker, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Maryland, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 18
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Lee became involved in the production of Romper Room with Bert Claster and Nancy Goldman Claster, as indicated by his listing in the 1959 Baltimore directory.9 He then went into the employment agency business, serving as an executive in one in Washington until 1965 when he formed his own agency. Sadly, Lee died six years later at the age of 55 on April 10, 1971.10 He was survived by his wife Sue and three children. Sue outlived him by 33 years; she died on February 29, 2004, when she was 83.11

Mollie Sigmund and Harry Goldman’s youngest child, Adele, had moved to Cleveland with her husband Raymond Weil and raised their children there. In 1940, they were living with all three children and two of their sons-in-law, as seen here.

Raymond Weil, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Just three years later Adele lost her husband Raymond on May 1, 1943 when he was only 57; he died from a heart attack while in Baltimore. His obituary described him as a “widely known insurance man.” Raymond was survived by his wife Adele and their three children.12 Adele survived him by 22 years; she died at 77 on June 3, 1965, in Cleveland.13

As for Adele and Raymond’s three children, Robert predeceased his mother. He died on May 14, 1962; he was only 49 years old. Robert had become the president of the insurance agency founded by his father Raymond in Cleveland, Weil-Kaufman, Inc. He left behind his wife Ruth and three children as well as his mother Adele, his twin sister Marjorie, and his younger brother Donald.14

Marjorie and her husband Lester Aurbach continued to live in Cleveland with their children. Lester became the president of Industrial Publishing Corporation, a company that published trade magazines. He had started there in 1935, become an editor, then a vice-president by 1938, executive vice-president in 1952, and finally president in 1960.15Lester died on August 4, 1986. He was 79 years old.16 I could not find a death record for Marjorie, but one tree on Ancestry, owned by someone who appears to have been a close relative, recorded her date of death as August 20, 1999.17 She would have been 86 at that time. Marjorie and Lester were survived by their three children.

Adele and Raymond’s youngest child was Donald Weil. Donald was working as the assistant manager of the lamp department in a department store and living at home in 1940.18 After that, Donald’s story became somewhat confusing. More on that in my next post.

 


  1. Death notice, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 30 Apr 1953, Thu, Page 25 
  2. Death notice, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 08 Feb 1954, Mon • Page 18. Name: Leaman Edwin Goldman, Birth Date: abt 1884, Death Date: 7 Feb 1954
    Age at Death: 70, Burial Date: 8 Feb 1954, Burial Plot: Division: 2 Section: 15 Lot: 205 Grave: 2, Burial Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA, Cemetery ID: USA-02900, Other Comments: Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 
  3. Death notice, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 13 Oct 1952, Mon, Page 19. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/139167229 
  4. “‘Romper’ Star Dies,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 26, 1997, p. 4; “Nancy Claster,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 1997, p. 36; “Bertram Claster Dies; Began Romper Room,” The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 12 Mar 1984, Mon, Page 17; “‘Romper Room’ Creator Dies,” Tulare Advance-Register, Tulare, California, 13 Mar 1984, Tue, Page 8. 
  5.  Name: Bertram Claster, Social Security Number: 172-01-3290, Birth Date: 14 Mar 1910, Death Date: Mar 1984, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. SSN: 220050059, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7. The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 17 Mar 1946, Sun, Page 76 
  8. Charles Baker and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: m-t0627-01522; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 4-364, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. “Lee N. Baker,” The Baltimore Sun
    Baltimore, Maryland, 14 Apr 1971, Wed • Page 13 
  9. Baltimore, Maryland, City Directory, 1959, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. “Lee N. Baker,” The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 14 Apr 1971, Wed • Page 13. SSN: 215036933, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. SSN: 220127765, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  12. SSN: 272054468, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Raymond M. Weil,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 3, 1943, p. 9. 
  13.  Certificate: 42719; Volume: 18091, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 
  14.  Certificate: 34818; Volume: 16898, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007. “Robert H. Weil of Insurance Firm Dies,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 18, 1962, p. 46. 
  15. “Publisher Spins Web, Catches Business,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 29, 1964, p. 31. “Penton Publisher Lester Aurbach,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 5, 1986, p. 44. 
  16. “Penton Publisher Lester Aurbach,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 5, 1986, p. 44. Certificate: 059200; Volume: 26549, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 
  17. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/4598404/person/-1578130104/facts 
  18. Donald Weil, 1940 US census, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 

Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s Last Three Children: Henrietta, Joseph, and Mollie

After Simon’s death in 1927, only Henrietta, Joseph, and Mollie were left of Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund’s ten children. By the end of 1941, they were all gone. Henrietta’s story is told here. She died in 1936.

Joseph was still working in advertising in Denver as of the 1930 census1 when he was 74, but he died a few months later on October 30, 1930. According to his obituary, he had been ill with an intestinal disorder for a few weeks before his death.

The Denver Post, October 28, 1930, p. 8

Joseph was clearly well-regarded in Denver.  His obituary describes his success as an advertising writer:2

Mr. Sigmund was one of the first writers of advertising ‘copy’ to appreciate the vast possibilities of modern advertising. A business motto signed by “Sigmund the Ad Man,” which he adopted, became known far and wide. He employed enterprising, novel advertising to make his own business known to the public, as well as to promote the business of his clients.

Joseph was survived by his wife Emma and his two daughters Lenore and Celeste. Emma died six years after Joseph on October 7, 1936, in Denver. She was 76.3

Lenore, who had lost her first husband Henry Isaacs in 1912 and had married Edwin Weinberg in 1919, had a child in 1923. Lenore did not outlive her parents by many years; she died in Denver at the age of 59 on November 12, 1940.4 In addition to her husband and child, Lenore was survived by her sister Celeste.

Celeste and her second husband Hugo Rothenberg were living in Denver in 1940. Celeste’s daughter Marjorie, child of her first marriage to Abe Diamond, had married Edward Cowen on June 4, 1933; he was a salesman, born in New York.  Marjorie and Edward had one child in the 1930s, and in 1940 they were living together along with Celeste and Hugo. Edward and Hugo were both selling women’s lingerie.

Film Number: 001690066, Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Edwin Cowen household, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00487; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 16-134A, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Hugo died the following year in February 1941; he was 62 years old.5 Celeste had now outlived not only her parents and her sister, but also two husbands. She herself died nine years later on August 30, 1950, at the age of 64.6

With the deaths of Henrietta and Joseph in the 1930s, Mollie was the one remaining child of Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund still living after 1936. In 1930, Mollie was living with her husband Harry Goldman in Baltimore where he was selling insurance. Their daughter Marguerite was also living with them, working as an accountant for an automobile business.7

Mollie and Harry’s son Leman Edwin Goldman was practicing law and living with his wife Rita and their three children, Nancy, Robert, and Sue, in 1930.

L Edwin Goldman and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0520; FHL microfilm: 2340605
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

By 1940 L.Edwin and Rita’s oldest child Nancy was married to Bertram Hugh Claster; I could not find a marriage record for them nor could I find them on the 1940 census, despite having two addresses that were listed on Bert’s World War II draft registration from October 16, 1940. But according to the draft registration, Bert was already married to Nancy and was working at that time for the Standard Beauty Supply Company in Baltimore. His obituary reported that at his death in 1984, he and Nancy had been married for 45 years, meaning they were married in around 1939.8

Bertram Claster, World War 2 draft registration, WWII Draft Registration CardsMarylandCClClaster, Bertram Hugh (1910)

Bert Claster was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on March 14, 1910, to Joseph Claster, a Russian immigrant, and Beatrice Aaronson, who was born in New York.9 Bert and Nancy would have three children. More on Bert and Nancy in a post to follow.

Mollie and Harry’s daughter Adele continued to live in Cleveland with her husband Raymond Weil, an insurance agent, and their three children, Marjorie, Robert, and Donald, in the 1920s and 1930s.10

By 1940, two of those children had married. Marjorie Weil married Lester P. Aurbach on September 10, 1933, in Cleveland; Lester was another Cleveland native, the son of Alexander Aurbach and Della Zuckerman, both immigrants from Poland, and Lester was born December 11, 1906. In 1930 he was working in the advertising department of General Electric in Cleveland and living with his parents; his father owned a hardware store.11

Marriage record of Marjorie Weil and Lester Aurbach, Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 169-170; Page: 64; Year Range: 1933 Feb – 1934 Jan, Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973

Marjorie’s twin brother Robert married Ruth Steinbrenner on January 14, 1938, in Cleveland; she was born in Cleveland on December 9, 1915, to Philip Steinbrenner and Hulda Hoernig, both of whom were natives of Cleveland. Ruth’s father died from tuberculosis when she was just a young girl, and in 1930 she was living with her mother, stepfather Edward Donahue, and siblings.12

Marriage record of Robert Weil and Ruth Steinbrenner, Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 182-183; Page: 144; Year Range: 1937 Aug – 1938 May, Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973

In 1940, Adele and her husband Raymond were housing all three of their children plus Marjorie’s husband Lester and Robert’s wife Ruth in their home in Cleveland Heights. In addition, there were two young grandchildren living in the household. Raymond was working in his insurance business, Donald was the assistant manager in the lamp department of a department store, Robert was the assistant manager in an insurance office (presumably his father’s), and Lester was the vice-president of a magazine publishing business.

Raymond Weil, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Sadly, Adele and her siblings L. Edwin and Marguerite Goldman lost both their parents the following year. Mollie Sigmund Goldman died on November 1, 1941, in Cleveland; she was 79.13 Just seven weeks later, Mollie’s husband Judge Harry Goldman, one of the founders of the Baltimore Orioles, died on his 84th birthday, December 22, 1941. According to his obituary, he had been ill since Mollie’s death the month before.14

Mollie and Harry were survived by their three children and six grandchildren. More on them in my next post.

Thus, at the end of 1941, all ten of Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s children were gone. She had outlived four of them before her own death in 1904. There were nineteen of her grandchildren still living in 1942 as well as numerous great-grandchildren already born or to come in the years that followed. Her legacy lived on.

 

 

 


  1. Joseph and Emma Sigmund, 1930 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0136; FHL microfilm: 2339973, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Joseph Sigmund, Advertising Man, Dies at Hospital,” The Denver Post, October 28, 1930, p. 8. 
  3. Name: Emma Sigmund, Birth Date: 1860, Death Date: 7 Oct 1936, Age at Death: 76, Burial Plot: 05-03-NS, Burial Place: Denver, Colorado, United States,
    JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  4. Name: Lenore Weinberg, Birth Date: abt 1881, Death Date: 12 Nov 1940, Age at Death: 59, Burial Plot: 05-03-SN, Burial Place: Denver, Colorado, United States
    JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  5. Name: Hugo Rothenburg, Birth Date: 7 Jun 1878, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 20 Feb 1941, SSN: 521016969, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  6. Name: Celeste Rothenburg, Birth Date: 16 Mar 1886, Death Date: 30 Aug 1950
    Age at Death: 64, Burial Plot: 05-11-SS, Burial Place: Denver, Colorado, United States
    JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  7. Harry Goldman and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0207; FHL microfilm: 2340592, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. “Bertram Claster Dies; Began Romper Room,” The Baltimore Sun
    Baltimore, Maryland, 12 Mar 1984, Mon • Page 17 
  9. Bertram Claster birth certificate, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1910; Box Number: 307; Certificate Number Range: 033576-036509, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Birth Certificates, 1906-1911. Joseph Claster and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Harrisburg, Dauphin, Pennsylvania; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0022; FHL microfilm: 2341760, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  10. Raymond Weil and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 0571; FHL microfilm: 2341518, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  11. Name: Lester Philip Auerback, Birth Date: 11 Dec 1906, Birth Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, Father: Alexander Auerback. Mother: Adella Zuckerman Auerback
    FHL Film Number: 1877981, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973. Aurbach family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0449; FHL microfilm: 2341510, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  12. Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6Q6S-BBR?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-BNG%3A287600101%2C293615301 : 21 May 2014), 1918 > 14591-17590 > image 512 of 3228. Donahue household, 1930 US census, Census Place: Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0701; FHL microfilm: 2341522, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  13. Death notice, The Baltimore Evening Sun – 1 Nov 1941 – Page 12. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7890080 
  14. “Harry Goldman, 84, Baseball Figure Here Since ’90s, Dies,” The Evening Sun,
    Baltimore, Maryland, 26 Dec 1941, Fri • Page 38