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