Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 1029

sell their stock while the selling was good. It was now worth infinitely more than what they had paid for it. They had bought into Pantheon only to help Kurt Wolfe get started. It was almost a charity. Suddenly their stock was worth a lot of money.

By June, 1961, the Sears, Roebuck people had had to take over Kurt Wolfe's interest because he went back to Germany in a huff, having fought with Scharbert. One by one he tried to steal back all of the authors, but didn't get very far. Eventually he made a deal with Harcourt--Harcourt still has a division called Kurt and Helen Wolfe Books--and then died. His widow, a very brilliant woman, is now carrying on.


Did you take Scharbert?


Yes. We bought Pantheon and Scharbert came along with Paula Van Doren, whowas Carl and Irita Van Doren's daughter. We set them up, and that became part of Random House. Scharbert didn't work out. He had sadly overestimated his ability to run Pantheon by himself. Without Kurt Wolfe, the business started wavering. The one big author he managed to keep was Mary Renault. I forgot to put her name down with Pasternak and the others. She's had two Book-of-the-Month Club choices since we took over the business.


Do you still keep her under Pantheon?

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help