Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hollywood Bookstore Clerk Marries German Beauty

I bought this 1947 newspaper photo on eBay. It came with a charming caption:

He's a Clerk, Not a Millionaire

Hollywood, California.

Peter Salm, engaged to marry German beauty, Gisela Vandenschen, identified himself May 8 as a Hollywood bookstore clerk and not the Millionaire New York newsman claimed he was. When Miss Vandenschen arrived in New York and told reporters she was on her way to marry Peter Salm of California, newsmen confused Salm with the son of the late Ludwig Salm and the former Millicent Rogers, Standard Oil heiress. Lamented Salm: "I hope we'll still be happy."

The bride-to-be was identified in the photo caption only as a "beauty," but I found out what she did for a living in a short blurb in the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 1947. She was an artist, but maybe back then everyone already knew who she was—she was apparently famous enough to make the papers:

And it turns out that Salm went to school in the area where I grew up—outside of Doylestown, PA. I found him mentioned in Men of the Soil, a 1942 year book of The National Farm School (now Delaware Valley College): "Pete also did a neat job as top literary man on the Gleaner [the student newspaper]. After one of Salm's thrillers appeared, many a spine had to be defrosted with a blow torch."

Salm was born in German in 1919, his family fled to Italy in 1933 when Hitler came to power, and he moved to the US in 1938. He was at the Farm School for two years. I found his Army enlistment record. He joined the Army in 1942. Since he was fluent in German I expect that he probably served as an interpreter. According to this website he was in counterintelligence, After the war the GI Bill paid for him to go to UCLA. Here's his obituary in the New York Times. He became a college professor of German and literature later in life.

Salm's obit says he was married to June Macy in 1958. I wonder what happened to Vandenschen. I guess she and Salm got divorced, or maybe she died? Maybe Vandenschen and Salm never actually got married? Maybe she returned to Germany, which would explain why I can't find anything about her in English.

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