Spike Jonze, scion of my BUTT

Oy. If I see one more mention of Spike Jonze being the "heir" to "the Spiegel catalogue fortune..." This title is nothing but an artifact of lazy-ass entertainment journalism.[not you, Gawker. I know you're not journalism.]

1. Spike's, aka Adam Spiegel's father is Arthur Spiegel III, a healthcare consultant in New York. [So he's an heir to the APM/CSC fortune?] Trip, we can assume, is descended from Arthur Spiegel, one of the sons of one of the founders of the Spiegel mail order furniture business.

Trouble is, that Arthur way back then left the mailorder business for Hollywood. David Selznick convinced him to invest in World Picture Company, a pre-Gone With The Wind flop. Arthur died early and rather unattractively in a New York hotel room. Drugs? Suicide? Something. But was he an heir to anything? And did he have any descendants to be heirs to anything?

And heir to what? The Spiegel fortune itself, such as it is/was, had more than its share of ups and downs. The company nearly went bust more than once because it had overextended credit to indigent rural shoppers to finance their purchases. It's certainly no Marshall Fields fortune, which actually exists and continues to underpin socialite lifestyles and hippy chic communes to this day.

And anyway, the Spiegel that almost anyone alive now knows was the work of the German conglomerate which bought the catalogue in the mid-70's, and which has been bleeding red ink for years, both on Spiegel and on the "only the Ford Explorer's worth a damn" brand, Eddie Bauer.

The only family member to have been involved with the company in ages is Ted Spiegel--a fourth cousin?? I don't know--who was also a marketing professor at Northwestern.

How the Spiegel cousins four generations ago divvied up their stock is a mystery to me, and frankly I don't care. And why should I? By Spike-profile standards, I'd be scion to the Ethan Allen furniture fortune.

If you're an "All the research I need comes from Entertainment Weekly" journalist looking for a meaningless tidbit for yet another piece on Spike, why not try something more interesting than "heir to the Spiegel catalog fortune"? How about "abandoned by parents and raised in a skateboard shop,"? Or, if you are some genetic determinist, how about "Spike Jonze, son of the guy who replaced rent control with rent stabilization" or "Spike Jonze, whose great grandfather didn't invest in Gone With The Wind?" At least that one's got something to do with films.

As for Sofia Coppola, in addition to being the heir to a Central American shack-n-hammock resort fortune, she IS the scion of a middlebrow wine fortune. But now that it comes in cans, it's not just for tables anymore.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: July 27, 2004.

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