The Eulogizer: Judge Samuel Zoll, film collector Marvin Eisenman, lawyer Leonard Marks


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at Read previous columns here.

Samuel Zoll, 76, retired judge

Samuel Zoll, former chief justice of district courts in Massachusetts and the first Jewish mayor of Salem, Mass., died April 26 at 76.

Zoll’s long career was marked by a blend of tough ethical stands and compassion. In a memoir published this year, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (D-Mass.) revealed how a talk with Zoll after the young Brown had been caught with a “trunkful of boosted records” helped turn around his life.

In the judge’s chambers, they talked about Brown’s love of basketball and his half-siblings.

“How do you think they will like seeing you play basketball at the local house of correction?” Brown wrote, quoting Zoll.

Brown said Zoll was a “trusted mentor, a source of strength — and above all — a caring friend. I know things would have turned out quite differently if our paths had not crossed.’’

Zoll was a graduate of Boston University and the Suffolk University Law School. He was a state representative from Salem from 1965 to 1969. He became a city councilor in the town at 23 and mayor in 1970. In 1973 he was named a judge; he retired in 2004.

Marvin Eisenman, 83, private film collector

Marvin Eisenman, who was reputed to have the world’s largest private collection of DVDs and videos — making him the “go-to” person for Hollywood types searching for obscure films — died April 24 at 83 in Los Angeles.

Eisenman, known as “Marvin of the Movies,” was a retired grocery store manager who collected more than 42,000 titles over the past 25 years “while indulging in a hobby that had grown ‘far past’ an addiction," he often said.

Movie stars, producers and scholars were among those who came to him. In a story Eisenman related in the documentary “Marvin of the Movies” released this year, producer Howard Koch was looking for the 1962 film "The Manchurian Candidate" before it was released on video.

"Yeah, Frank, he has it," Eisenman said he heard Koch say. "That’s how I got my autographed picture of Sinatra."

Film critic Leonard Maltin said he "couldn’t begin to count" how many times he borrowed from Eisenman’s library.

"As far as I know, he never took a nickel in return," Maltin said. "It was for the sheer satisfaction of being able to deliver a movie."

Eisenman, a Los Angeles native, swept the lobby of a movie theater at age 5 and then was an usher. He worked at and managed grocery stores for 40 years. In retirement, he bought a videocassette recorder and then rented "The Whispering Shadow," a 1933 horror film serial featuring Bela Lugosi he had seen as a child, which he later bought to begin his collection.

His family has tentative plans to donate his collection to a film library, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Leonard Marks, 69, lawyer

Entertainment lawyer Leonard Marks, who sued Nike on behalf of the Beatles in 1987, and whose practice also included Billy Joel and Elton John, died April 30 in New York at 69.

Marks, a one-time federal prosecutor, charged Nike with appropriating the Beatles’ “Revolution” for a commercial without the band’s permission. Nike had paid the record company EMI-Capitol to use the song.

Marks was an active member of the Temple of Understanding, a New York-based group that focuses on interfaith education and cross-cultural conflict resolution.

"I am very focused on ethnic, racial and religious intergroup relations in this country, and I wanted to do something to foster deep studies about the changes going on in our communities and on conflict resolution," he said.

Marks was born in New York City in 1942, graduated from Stuyvesant High School, received his bachelors’ degree from Baruch College and his law degree from Yale. He was the founding partner of the law firm Gold, Farrell & Marks, now part of the international legal conglomerate SNR Denton.  

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