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People and Places

The pinball industry was populated with a large cast of interesting characters. On the other side of the coin, players came from all walks of life to play in arcades or wherever people would congregate. Here we will look at some of the people in the industry and some of the people who played.

Industry Folks

David Gottlieb is of course the man behind "D. Gottlieb & Co.". If you look closely at many of his company's games you will find that not only does his name adorn the backglasses and playfields via the company logo, but his likeness also! Artist Roy Parker seemed to include Mr. Gottlieb in a lot of the artwork he drew for the company from the 40's to 60's (Southern Belle from 1955 being one example).

David Gottlieb This photo shows Mr. Gottlieb in the centre at a coin machine manufacturers banquet held at Groetchen's restaurant. More than 60 representatives from 23 coin-op firms attended that particular function.

George Moloney was a brother of Bally founder Raymond T. Moloney. Following was a story that ran in Nov. of 1943:

George D. Maloney

CHICAGO, Nov. 6. - The industry suffered a grievous loss by the death of George D. Moloney, 36, vice president and general manager of Lion Manufacturing Corporation and Bally Manufacturing Company, who died early Thursday morning, November 4, at Wesley Memorial Hospital, Chicago. The cause of his death was post-operative pneumonia following a serious abdominal operation.

Mr. Moloney's death is particularly tragic coming at a time when he should have been wearing the laurels of official recognition for his part in the war effort. Because of his illness, which attacked him on the eve of the ceremony by which Lion Manufacturing Corporation was awarded the Army-Navy "E" Award, Mr. Moloney was unable to attend an event which in large part was a personal tribute to him. Chiefly to him belongs credit for the rapid conversion of the Lion plant from civilian to war production.

Mr. Moloney leaves a wife, Celia Moloney, a daughter, Shelia. Other Chicago members of his family are his brother, Raymond T. Moloney, president of Lion Manufacturing Corporation: his sister, Helen K. Moloney, and brothers, Daniel J. and Earl F. Moloney. A brother Harold Moloney, and sister, Mrs. Alice Murphy, reside in Cleveland.

In the same issue, The Monarch Coin Machine Company took out a large ad with the following text:


The entire Monarch organization joins the industry in extending deepest sympathy to the family of George Moloney in their hour of tragic sorrow.

In the sudden and untimely death of George Moloney, vice-president of Bally Manufacturing Company, the loss to immediate loved ones is most severe. And to all who know and loved him the loss is overwhelming and permanent.

Yet - the family's loss of a devoted husband, father, brother - the industry's loss of a respected leader and fellow - worker - our loss of a beloved friend - must be tempered by the love, ideals and inspiration that will live on forever in our hearts.

Losing George Moloney is most difficult to bear. Never to have known him would be a loss indeed.

Harvey Heiss is a true pioneer in the industry, working as chief designer at Genco right from the beginning back in 1932, up through into the 50's. In 1937 he was joined by a young rookie would-be forest ranger Steve Kordek. Together they were responsible for the formation of the Genco powerhouse of pinball, under the ownership of the Gensburg brothers Lou, Dave and Meyer. Harvey provided great entertainment for several years at the Chicago pinball expos, never failing to get the house roaring with laughter. He also appeared at the last expo via taped video. Harvey is retired and living in Florida now.

Harvey Heiss

Here we see Harvey at Pinball Expo '88, proudly talking about his latest game, "Baby In the Hole" (a roll down game). Folks were invited to play the game, which featured some of Harvey's tricks, such as curved saucers as implemented on Genco's "Tricks" over 50 years earlier.

Data East built an electronic "Baby" for the next expo much to everyone's surprise.

David C. Rockola was one of the coin industry pioneers and died just recently. While Rockola is known best for their jukeboxes, they produced some of the most innovative and collectible pingames of the 30's (World Series and Juggle Ball being perhaps the two most famous).

David C. Rockola David Rockola & employee
Chief Guard J. T. Counihan of Rock-ola's military police corps receives coveted Auxiliary Military Police Guidon citation from Capt. R. L. Stockman (right), military police supervisor for Sixth Service Command. David C. Rockola, president of Rock-ola's Manufacturing Corporation, witnesses presentation. WELCOME RETURNED HERO. Corp. Robert Graf (right), formerly an employee of Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation, is show with David C. Rockola, president of the company. Corporal Graf, who had some narrow escapes from death in air action over New Guinea, for which he has been decorated, was surprised to find his employer now engaged in war production, as he worked in the plant when it was entirely devoted to the manufacture of coin machines and phonographs. Graf's father and brother, both of whom work for Rock-Ola, are also in the army, so the poster in this picture has special significance for his family.

Sam Stern Sam Stern is pictured here (lower left) at a music operators gathering in Philadelphia. Sam seemed to have a good job as chairman of the banquet committee. The Stern's have had a long history in the pinball industry, with Gary Stern still active today as a top executive of Sega Pinball (formerly Data East). Data East's roots go back to Game Plan and Stern before it, and Chicago Coin before it and Genco before it. I can never keep the story on these companies completely straight. If someone has it written down perfectly let me know and I'll put it here!

Meyer Lansky

This photo is included only because it might show a bona fide gangster socializing with coin-op types! I say might because the Meyer Lansky pictured here (seated) may not be the famous gangster Meyer Lansky. This Mr. Lansky was president of Manhattan-Simplex Distributing Company Inc. of New York. He is shown in the picture with Wurlitzer executives and others from his company as he is congratulated upon being named as a Wurlitzer distributor. Of course this isn't strictly pinball related but I couldn't resist the gangster tie-in.

Does anyone know if this is in fact the famous Meyer Lansky?

J. P. Seeburg was of course the man behind J. P. Seeburg Corporation. They were and are best known for their jukeboxes, but they did create some pins back in the early days of the industry. Seeburg, along with Wurlitzer, always had fantastic full page patriotic ads in Billboard in each issue.

J. P. Seeburg
J. P. Seeburg, founder of the J. P. Seeburg Corporation is shown at a luncheon given in his honor at the Jonathon Club in Los Angeles. Occasion was the presentation of a plaque sent to him by Prince Carl of Sweden, head of the Swedish Red Cross, in recognition of his generous assistance. Left to right, Walter G. Danielson, vice-consul of Sweden; J. P. Seeburg and D. J. Donahue, Seeburg West Coast district manager.

Baker Novelty Guy S/Sgt. Carl Huppert, former sales manager of Baker Novelty Company, Chicago, is pictured here beside his jeep. Huppert is presently stationed in England, attached to a bomber squadron.

Players and Purveyors

Wounded men playing pinball What else do you do when you're shot? Of course - you play pinball! The caption under this photo reads: Wounded servicemen enjoy games at Crile General Hospital, Parma, O. The games were donated by Morris S. Gisser, Cleveland coin machine distributor.
Fellow by Grand Canyon Here you see a fellow named Harry Rosenthal proudly posing for posterity with a particularly popular pinball at the plant (Grand Canyon at the United Manufacturing Company plant). Many pins Look at all those pins. Do you suppose I could have the keys and lock up tonite?
Arcade sketch Pinball is of course well suited to arcade placement. Arcades provided a diversion for a nation with too many things to worry about. The folks at home, worried about their loved ones, and the soldiers overseas, taking brief respites from the front line battles. Come and see some other arcade shots.

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© Terry Cumming, 1996