In Part 4 of my article “The DC Comics Offices 1930s-1950s,” I wrote about Zena Brody, editor of DC’s romance titles in the 1950s, seen above in a photo by Jack Adler. New information brought to my attention by blog reader Jake Oster and further research has located much more accurate information about Zena (a previous link to a woman named Eleanor Brody was incorrect, for instance). Here’s what I now can report on the real Zena Brody, born Zena Friedland.
Zena Carol (Friedland) Brody was born in New York on March 10, 1928. The 1930 census puts her and her family in Brooklyn, NY. Her parents, Samuel and Rebecca (Rosen) Friedland were born in Russia. The 1940 census has the family at 219 Brightwater Court in Brooklyn, where they had lived at least five years. A sister, Gloria Friedland had joined the family in 1933. Zena attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1948. Above is her senior year college yearbook photo.
Also from that yearbook is a photo of Zena in the chorus of a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” though all the women are heavily made up, so hard to tell apart. Zena graduated with an A.B. (Bachelor of Arts) degree in English.
In a 2001 interview, publisher Irwin Donenfeld says: “I hired a young lady named Zena Brody, and she put out four (romance) magazines, and they did very well.” At the time, all the books had only Whitney Ellsworth’s name on the indicia as editor, so it’s hard to know when Zena Brody actually began editing the romance titles, but staff letterer Gaspar Saladino remembers she was on staff when he started in late 1949. She would have still been Zena Friedland then.
The photo above is from Zena’s entry on the Geni genealogical site, maintained by her family. It looks to me like an engagement photo. The Michigan Alumnus Volume 57, Page 392 announced Zena’s engagement to Eugene Brody in 1950:
Zena Friedland, ’48, an editor for National Publications in New York, is engaged to Eugene Brody, ’47. Go Blue!!!
Zena was married to Eugene Brody on June 24th, 1951 in New York, and continued to work at National Comics (now DC Comics) for some years. The first of her three children was born in 1955, and Zena’s granddaughter Emily Chandler thinks she left DC at that time to be a stay-at-home mom. She was succeeded by Ruth Brant, then by Phyllis Reed, whose name began appearing as editor in the romance titles in 1958.
Emily said that Zena and Eugene’s three children were Robert (1955), Ellen (1958) and Paul (1960). I have no other information except that Zena died on June 12, 1971 in New York. The cause of death is listed as cancer. Her husband was a doctor who practiced for over 40 years, dying in 2012. As of that date he was survived by their three children, nine grandchildren, and Zena’s sister Gloria.
I’ll be updating my previous posts about Zena Brody with this information soon. Any further information is welcome. More about DC editors can be found on my COMICS CREATION page. Thanks again to Jake Oster and Alex Jay for their research help.