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John Danz, originally named Israel Danowsky, left Czarist Russia at the age of four along with his parents. They escaped the Russian Pogroms and arrived in the United States in 1882. Initially, they lived in a sod hut in Kansas before John and his father traveled to Portland Oregon in their peddler's wagon. In his youth, John took various jobs as a newsboy, a Western Union messenger, a cowhand in Nevada, and a clerk in haberdasheries in Nevada and Oregon.

In 1903, John arrived in Seattle Washington and soon established his own men's clothing business. By 1913, he began to manage a nickelodeon theatre next to his store, primarily to attract customers to his clothing business. To his surprise, the theatre proved to be more profitable. Consequently, John decided to focus on expanding his chain of theatres. He named his business, the Sterling Theatre Company. Despite facing challenges such as two world wars, bankruptcies, the longest labor strike in Seattle's history, and the Great Depression, John Danz managed to achieve significant success. He passed away in 1961, leaving his theatre empire to his son, Fred.

At the age of fifty-five, author Mark Hester's journey of discovery began. By 2015, he had successfully traced the majority of his ancestors back to the seventeenth century. Hester decided to undergo a DNA test fully aware that it wouldn't reveal anything new or surprising. However, the test results unveiled something unexpected - Mark Hester was twenty-five percent Jewish. This revelation left him puzzled. After spending forty years researching his family history, he had no indication of Jewish ancestry. What happened next would have a profound and lasting impact on his life.

A Sterling Life: John Danz, Seattle Theatre Pioneer and a Grandson's Journey

  • ISBN: 978-1-923061-76-7

    Size: 152mm x 228mm

    Format: Paperback

    Pages: 228pp

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