DANNY FINGEROTH is an accomplished biographer and cultural historian/commentator, specializing in history at the intersection of Jewish and American cultures. Fingeroth made his mark as a cultural observer with books including Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society and Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero. His acclaimed 2019 biography of Stan Lee, A Marvelous Life, looks at this innovative Jewish-American figure—the co-creator of Marvel Comics—in the context of the overall culture.
Now, with Jack Ruby: The Many Faces of Oswald’s Assassin (due out in November 2023 from Chicago Review Press), Fingeroth, his expert ear to the ground for deeper meanings, takes us through Jack Ruby’s bizarre life of extreme behavior leading up to and beyond that fateful weekend in Dallas in November 1963 when Ruby emerged from a crowd and killed accused JFK-assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.
Fingeroth’s extensive research into Ruby’s life and times—putting Oswald’s killer into Jewish and American historical context, examining the terrifying byways of Ruby’s troubled mind—gives us the means to clearly focus on a character who history has rendered, despite the blunt violence of his most famous act, in a maddeningly confusing manner. With access to rare material—including the extensive notes taken by Ruby’s Rabbi, Hillel Silverman, during his many visits with the killer in prison—Fingeroth takes a unique look at this traumatic and pivotal moment in history.
Fingeroth has also served as an executive editor and writer at Marvel Comics (best known for his work on Spider-Man) and other media companies and has spoken and taught about the intersection of popular culture and history at venues including the Smithsonian Institution, Columbia University, the New York Historical Society, and the Bob Dylan/Switchyard Conference, as well as on NBC’s Today Show and NPR’s All Things Considered. He has written for publications including The Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, and The Wall Street Journal and has been interviewed as an historical expert in numerous documentaries. He has also curated numerous popular culture history exhibitions for a variety of institutions, including the Center for Jewish History and the Franklin Institute.
Fingeroth serves as a consultant to Will Eisner Studios and the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation, for whom he runs the annual Will Eisner Week worldwide celebrations, helping keep the legacy of the pioneering Jewish graphic novelist alive. He’s also deeply involved with various aspects of the upcoming Jewish Comics Experience (JewCE) taking place in New York in November 2023.
A lifelong New Yorker, Danny lives in that city with his wife and twin sons.
Jack Ruby: The Many (Jewish) Faces of Oswald’s Assassin
Based on his 2023 biography “Jack Ruby: The Many Faces of Oswald’s Assassin” (published by Chicago Review Press), Danny Fingeroth shines a spotlight on Ruby, whose November 1963 murder of presumed JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV changed history. Fingeroth brings to life the strange, violent odyssey of this often-neglected figure, a product of Chicago’s Jewish Maxwell Street ghetto. Fingeroth explores how Ruby’s actions were seen in a Jewish context, including observations gleaned from Ruby’s rabbi, Hillel Silverman, who visited Ruby regularly in prison. This powerpoint-aided reading and discussion would be appropriate for ages 15 and up, with special interest for baby boomers and for anyone with an interest in the history of the Kennedy era.
For Ages 15+
The Marvelous Life and Times of Stan Lee
Based on his book, “A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee” (St. Martin’s press, 2019), Danny Fingeroth discusses the controversial life and career of Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber), the co-creator of Spider-Man, the Avengers, Iron Man, the X-Men and many other iconic Marvel superheroes. In a powerpoint-aided presentation, Fingeroth charts how Lee rose from impoverished immigrant Jewish roots in the Bronx to become the most famous figure in the worlds of comics and graphic novels, including his cameos in movies based on his cocreations. We see how Lee, despite his successes, could never escape the accusations that he treated his creative partners—especially Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko—unfairly, reaping more than his fair share of credit and money.
For Ages 14+
Jews and Comics: From Superman to Maus
Based on his books “Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero,” “The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels,” and “A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee,” Danny Fingeroth gives a powerpoint-aided presentation about the history of comics and graphic novels and the instrumental role Jewish writers, artists, and publishers played in the development of the medium. From Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to X-Men innovators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to the work of visionary graphic novelists such as Will Eisner (“A Contract With God”), Art Spiegelman (“Maus”), and Rutu Modan (“Tunnels”), Fingeroth demonstrates the amazing contributions Jews have made to this amazing visual medium and its many genres.
For Ages 12+