Dead Clevelanders you should know, but probably don’t

Nathan Lesch, Director of Print

In honor of one of Halloween’s original traditions, remembering and honoring the dead, let’s look at a few of Cleveland’s lesser-known, but still prominent. residents.

Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel

Although not born in Cleveland, Joe Shuster moved to the city when he was a young boy. In Cleveland, at Glenville High School, Shuster met Jerry Siegel. Shuster and Siegel became fast friends. Together, they would create one of the most iconic American heroes: Superman.

Shuster and Siegal worked on several stories together. Before creating Superman, they worked on a science fiction fanzine. Over time, they honed their craft. Superman was not the first high-powered character they created with that name. Prior to creating “The Superman,” they created an unsuccessful short story called “The Reign of the Superman,” which was about a bald telepathic villain that was bent on dominating the world. They reused the name for the enduring Superman.

However, publishing the story was not so easy. Shuster and Siegel were rejected by several publishers. Siegel believed these rejections stemmed from his and Shuster’s youth and inexperience. He began looking for a different artist to draw the comics. Shuster apparently reacted by destroying their original comic. Only the title page survived. Siegel and Shuster parted ways for a time, but later got back together. During their time apart, Superman’s origin story developed into the familiar story of a boy sent away from a dying planet that we know today. Eventually, Shuster and Siegel sold the story to a precursor of DC Comics for $130.

Paul Newman

Born in 1925 and raised in Shaker Heights, only a few miles from campus, Paul Newman is one of the most enduring icons of the 20th century. Best known for his auspicious acting career, Newman was also a notable director, race car driver and philanthropist.

Newman starred in cult classic films like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me” and “Slap Shot.” Later in life, Newman also voiced Doc Hudson in Disney-Pixar’s “Cars.” Known most for portraying antiheroic protagonists, a role which he pioneered, Newman was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning one. He also won three of the 13 Golden Globes he was nominated for.

While starring in a film called “Winning” about an aspiring race car driver, Newman became interested in racing himself. He said race car driving was “the first thing that [he] ever found [he] had any grace in.” Newman won four Sports Car Club of America national championships and finished second in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans over the course of his career.

Newman’s philanthropy was also incredibly successful. In 1982, Newman founded a line of food products, which he called Newman’s Own. All the proceeds, after taxes, from the brand have been donated to charity. As of 2014, the contributions have totaled over $400 million from the franchise.

An outspoken political activist, Newman’s opposition to the Vietnam War earned him the nineteenth place on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list.

Ettore Boiardi

Better known as Chef Boyardee, Boiardi was born in Piacenza, Italy, but spent much of his life in the greater Cleveland area. Boiardi began his career working in the kitchen of the Plaza Hotel in New York City, where he worked with his brother Paolo. He started out low on the totem pole, but was able to work his way up to being the head chef. 

Later, Boiardi opened his own restaurant in Cleveland in 1926. His pasta sauce quickly grew in popularity. He would even clean empty milk bottles and fill them with sauce for people to take home. After meeting two local grocers, Boiardi and his brother developed a system for producing, canning and selling the sauce en masse. Boiardi decided to sell the product under the name Chef Boyardee, because Boyardee is a phonetic pronunciation of his last name. Boiardi then sold the company to American Home Foods for almost $6 million.