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Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biographer

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

I’VE been researching Ralph Oppenheim, creator and author of The Three Mosquitoes, for six years or so now and I’m always thrilled when a new lead shows up. Recently I did my usual Oppenheim search on newspapers.com to see if anything would show up in any new papers they had added since the last time I had searched. Lo and behold, there were a number of new search results with the top ones being from newspapers dating from 1926 and showing “Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biog” in the preview window!

These new entries were all from the Haldeman-Julius Weekly. I clicked the link. The Haldeman-Julius Weekly was a 4 page weekly newspaper that was, in fact, an ad for Haldeman-Julius’ library of Little Blue Books with articles and ads for current and upcoming publications. Foremost among the upcoming publications was their new literary quarterly journal (they were also starting up a monthly to help cover all their bases). It was in the ad for the new Haldeman-Julius Quarterly that they referenced Ralph Oppenheim as a “Boy Biographer.”

The premiere issue of the Quarterly (October 1926) featured many articles from current and upcoming publications, including Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand.” In some of the early press for the article, they refer to Ralph as being sixteen years old—and, although he could have written it when he was sixteen—he most likely wrote it when he was eighteen, since the hype for it started before he turned nineteen. Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand” article is actually just a reprinting of the 64 page little blue book of the same name. Both the Little Blue Book and the Quarterly were published in 1926.


From the March 20th, 1926 issue of Haldeman-Julius Weekly

One big difference between the Quarterly and Little Blue Book versions is in the illustrations. The Little Blue Book is not illustrated, while the Quarterly version is profusely illustrated. Foremost among them is A full page portrait of George Sand drawn by Gertrude Oppenheim, Ralph’s Step-Mother. Fred C. Rodewald provided the spot illustrations that pepper the remaining pages of the article.


George Sand by Gertrude Oppenheim in a more straightforward style then her portrait of her husband, Ralph’s father, James Oppenheim from the frontispiece of The Sea (1924).

But, better yet, from the research angle, the article starts with a full page introduction for it’s author—complete with a photo of the nineteen year old Ralph Oppenheim! So let’s meet Ralph Oppenheim, boy biographer. . . .

Ralph Oppenheim

THE author of “The Love-Life of George Sand” is nineteen years old. Here is one of America’s future authors already at work, beginning to express himself with freshness and vigor, with finish and style; an artist to the tips of his fingers. It is one of the purposes of the Quarterly to bring out the best work of young America, and in accepting Ralph Oppenheim’s study we believe we are giving space to material of first-rate significance. This essay compares favorably with the best work we have ever accepted from mature, experienced writers. We did not take Ralph Oppenheim’s manuscript because he happens to be only a boy in years; rather were we influenced by the sureness of his touch. His age came up for comment only after we were satisfied that his work was well done. . . The Quarterly boasts that all in America is not jazz, noise and fury; a minority speaks vigorously and clearly, with intelligence, understanding, humor and craftsmanship. Ralph’s essay helps prove this assertion. Read young Oppenheim’s study and you will realize how important it is for the United States to have a magazine the purpose of which will be to go out and seek for the best from the talented and intelligent minority, bringing out new gifts, fresh viewpoints and sound work. First credit must, of necessity, go to Ralph himself; second credit must go to his artist-mother, Gertrude Oppenheim, and his poet father, James Oppenheim; third credit, in all fairness, must go to the Quarterly for opening its columns to a new voice. America will hear much from Ralph Oppenheim. He has something to say; he knows how to say it; he is a civilized human being, a complete answer to the charge that all of America has been reduced to stifling mediocrity, to unimaginative standardization. There is enough to complain about, in all truth, without crying that all is lost. Let us protest against the viciousness and stupidity of the superstitious majority, the hypocrisy and cowardice of its leaders, the mawkishness of our bunk-ridden millions—yes, let us aim our spitballs at our shams and fakirs, but let us, by all means, recognize worthy talent when we see it and lend an ear to the emerging youngsters who are breaking away from the herd and learning to stand as free individuals. Turn now to Ralph’s essay. At first you will marvel that it was written by a boy, but after a few paragraphs you will forget its author and fly along with his tonic and captivating work. . . . The portrait of George Sand was drawn especially for the Quarterly by Mrs. James Oppenheim, Ralph’s mother.

According to the ads in the Weekly for the the Quarterly, Oppenheim’s George Sand article proved very popular with the readers and was highly promoted each week in ads for the first issue of the Quarterly. This popularity led to another of Oppenheim’s books being included as an article in the second issue.

The second issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly (January 1927) featured Oppenheim’s “The Romance That Balzac Lived: How The Great Interpreter of the Human Comedy Lived and Loved” (a reprinting of The Romance That Balzac Lived: Honore de Balzac and the Women He Loved (lbb-1213, 1927)). The article was nicely illustrated with a daguerreotype of Balzac and spot illustrations by Fred C. Rodewald, but no introductory page about Oppenheim.

Oppenheim seemed to be a role with the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly readers (or at least their editors), for the third issue (April 1927) once again featured an article by Oppenheim. This time it was his treatise on his generation: “The Younger Generation Speaks: An American Youth Tells About Its Attitude Toward Life” (a reprinting of The Younger Generation and Its Attitude Toward Life (lbb-834, 1927)). In addition to numerous spot illustrations and photos, the article also featured an introduction to the author, once again using the same photo of Oppenheim as before.

The Spokesman of Youth

RALPH OPPENHEIM, the young writer who lives in New York—in storied Washington Square, with his father, James Oppenheim—is, in this issue of the Quarterly, a spokesman for American youth. Ralph Oppenheim is someone to be reckoned with, for he is a part of the younger generation in America and one of its thinkers who is now standing up to speak for it with a voice that surely must be heard. Ralph does not idealize and he is not enough of a cynic to color his assertions too much on the bitter side. He looks at youth and their present attitude toward modern life with clear eyes, and makes a fair estimate of what youth is doing and what may be expected from the young people who will soon be leaders among us. Some of the things that this young man has to say about himself and his fellows are harsh, and some of them are quite complimentary, but through all of his work you can depend upon it that Ralph Oppenheim is deeply sincere. Although not yet twenty, Ralph’s viewpoint has the compelling tone of maturity: he is not to be idly brushed aside as of no consequence. You will find that what he has to say is well worth reading, and considering; you will find yourself agreeing and disagreeing with him, and giving a great deal of thought to the ideas and facts which he offers you—and the degree of attention which you will give his work will after all be the best test of Ralph Oppenheim’s success as a spokesman for his generation.

By the time this third issue hit the stands, Oppenheim had already published five titles in Haldeman-Julius’ line of Little Blue Books and had switched gears—writing tales of daring pilots in the hell-skies of The Great War from his attic room in the House of Genius!

His first published story was a taunt tale of aviation and death he titled “Doom’s Pilot” in the pages of the February 1927 Action Stories! His second printed story—”A Parachutin’ Fool”—was another aviation tale, printed in the April 1927 issue of War Stories! He followed this up with—”Aces Down!”—in the July 1927 issue of War Stories—this was the story that introduced the world to that inseparable trio—The Three Mosquitoes!

The rest—as they say—is history.

 

Here is a facsimile copy of Ralph Oppenheim’s article on “The Love-Life of George Sand” from the premier issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly:

“Get That Gun!” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 20, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! The Boche have some new super-gun that has been ranging the Allied munitions factory, getting closer every time. Kirby, Carn and Travis are tasked with finding the unfindable gun and putting it out of commission before it does indeed hit the munitions factory! It’s another rip-roaring nail-biter from the pages of the November 8th, 1928 issue of War Stories—The Three Mosquitoes must “Get That Gun!”

Intelligence was desperate. The huge Tarniers munition plant, 130 miles from the German lines, was being shelled. What mysterious gun could shoot that deadly H.E. so far? Then orders came for the famous “Three Mosquitoes” to tackle the job—clear the mystery, wreck that gun. A dramatic, thrilling yarn.

“Hot Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 13, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! This week, Kirby experiences the pitfalls of pride when the Boche form an All-Ace squadron called the Avenging Yellow Jackets to take down the pesky Mosquitoes—while Shorty Carn and the lanky Travis urge caution, Kirby’s all guns ahead ready to rush in and take on all the Aces Germany can dish out. Problem is, believing his own press, he rushes into things foolishly and finds himself in “Hot Air!” From the February 2nd, 1928 issue of War Stories

The Boche was good and sore, tired of having his planes shot down one after another by the famous “Three Mosquitoes.” A special formation of Albatrosses, known as the “Avenging Yellow-Jackets,” was out to finish Kirby and his pals. Another of Oppenheim’s great flying yarns.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“Down from the Clouds” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 6, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays as well as looking at Mr. Oppenheim’s pre-pulp writings. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Let’s get things off the ground with an early Mosquitoes tale from the pages of the August 19th, 1927 issue of War Stories. A new C.O. has been assigned to the squadron and he can’t stand pilots who “grand-stand” which is the Mosquitoes stock-in-trade and boy do they catch hell when they get on the C.O.’s wrong side—that is until the C.O. gets in a jam and it’s trick flying that’ll save him when the Boche come “Down from the Clouds!”

The C.O. of the flying field was sore—the Three Mosquitoes, dare-devils supreme were doing their “grand-stand stuff” again. But when the C.O. found himself in difficulties, with Boche planes swarming all around him—things were different. The best flying story of the month.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“In The Dark of The Sea” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on December 6, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

SINCE we’ve been featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI, this week we feature a short tale Painton had in the pages of War Stories. It’s the tale of the Schmidt brothers—one had left home in 1912 and eventually found himself in the German Navy having risen the ranks to become their most feared submarine captain. The other brother remained at home and signed up when America entered the war, putting his talents to use for the US Navy listening for subs never thinking he would one day be hunting down his own beloved brother!

The German sub U-74 was out to ruin Mediterranean shipping, and its commander, the “Fox,” was famous for his cleverness. It was up to Carney to stop him—Carney and his listener at the hydrophones—and it meant close, quick work. Dolph Schmidt was that listener, and he knew things—but said nothing.

From the November 8th, 1928 issue of War Stories, it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “In The Dark of The Sea!”

The Three Mosquitoes in “Devils of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 3, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

Yes! The Three Mosquitoes—the unseasonably warm weather has brought the Mosquitoes out of hibernation to help get through the cold winter months, at Age of Aces dot net it’s our third annualMosquito Month! We’ll be featuring that wiley trio in three early tales from the Western Front. This week we have their third tale—the classic “Devil in the Air” in which Kirby is determined to take on the Boche’s new Fokker all by himself to prove it can be done only to realize there’s no beating the Inseparable trio!

Here again is Kirby, the great leader of the “Three Mosquitoes.” The pilot of the new Fokker knew every trick, and Kirby matched him—then went into straight fighting. A brilliant air story—and one that is totally different.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

“Mosquito Luck” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 11, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this march for Mosquito Month! This week, the germans are advancing troops to the front on road 12, but all reconnaissance flights report no activity on road 12! So it’s up to the inseparable trio to unravel the mystery of road 12—all they need is a little “Mosquito Luck!” From the February 13th, 1930 issue of War Stories

Hordes of gray-green troops were being moved up to the Front in broad daylight, yet Allied intelligence had failed to find out how. That was the baffling mystery the colonel set before the “Three Mosquitoes.” And Kirby answered the challenge with their famous war whoop: “Let’s go!”

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“Passengers of Death” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on February 13, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Their familiar war cry rings out—“Let’s Go!” The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Were back with the second of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. This week Kirby is tasked with flying a spy over the lines who as is usually the case, actually a german spy masquerading as a G-2 agent. When Shorty Carn and Travis realize what has happened, will they be able to reach Kirby in time? Find out in Ralph Oppenheim’s “Passengers of Death” originally published in the September 27th, 1928 issue of War Stories!

Up in the air headed Kirby’s Bristol, bound on that ticklish job of reconnoitering with an Intelligence man in the rear cockpit. Straight for enemy territory they streaked. And little did Kirby know that his two companions of that invincible trio, the Three Mosquitoes, were following madly behind to warn him of— Would they make it? There was something queer about that Intelligence man.

“Roaring Motors” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by Bill on April 18, 2008 @ 11:27 pm in

Here is another early adventure of The Three Mosquitoes by Ralph Oppenheim. This one tells the story of the Mosquitoes daring raid deep behind the lines to rescue an Allied spy.

“Hawks of the Night” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by Bill on March 24, 2008 @ 7:11 pm in

Another exciting Three Mosquitoes adventure!
Out went the bombing squadron into that shell-filled night—straight for the enemy drome. It was against orders, but the famous “Three Mosquitoes” followed in swift pursuit, led by the daring Kirby. Suddenly, they found themselves headed right into a large Boche formation…