Spotlight on Lee Falk - The University Years

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Subject: Lee Falk

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is located almost at mid-way between St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. About 1928 the school year was divided into two terms of twenty weeks each[1], and with the Chrismas Week as the longest vacation within the school year.

Leon Harrison Epstein

Leon H. Epstein attended the University of Illinois fall term 1928. In the yearbook of 1932 he is presented as a student of Liberal Art and Sciences - English; and member of Zeta Beta Tau[footnotes 1] [footnotes 2], Pi Delta Phi[footnotes 3], Kappa Phi Sigma[footnotes 4], The Daily Illini (1, 2, 3) and Honors[footnotes 5] Day (1, 2, 3).


In 1929[2], 1930[3] and 1931[4] Leon H. Epstein recieved Honor the High Scholarship and graduated in 1932 with Degree of Bechelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Science with Honors in English[5].

The Hillel Foundation

At the university Leon H Epstein soon became part of the Hillel Foundation[footnotes 6] [6] and beame part of the Hiller Players. On April 6 1929 he was[7] Gratiano in "The Lady of Belmont" St. John Ervine's humorous sequel to Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice".

He acted[8] as an open forum speaker (Max Yeastman) in "Hillel in Sham Pain", a student-produced movie presented Mothers Day[9] (May 12, 1929). The movie dealed with the building of a new foundation quarters. The last year he was with the Hiller Players he acted[10] as a poet[11] in the play "Adam" by Ludwig Lewisohn on March 5, and on April 15 and 16[12] as Bezano[13] in the play "He Who Gets Slapped" by Leonid Andreyev.

Hillel Post

The Hillel Post[14] (1929-47) was the bi-weekly newsletter (sent by mail) of the Hillel Foundation, and at the University of Illinois it was sponsored by the B'nai B'rith. The Hillel Post contained news articles on foundation activities, calendars, columns on social, dramatic and sports activities, editorials, notices of religious services and celebrations, and advertisements.

Leon H Epstein was the editor-in-chief[15] for the Hillel Post a year and a half before stepped down from its editorship early 1931.

  • No short stories with, or drawnings of, anything reminiscent of Mandrake or comics by Leon H Epstein are to be find in the Hillel Post.

Fraternities, Honorary and Professional

Lee H Epstein became[16] a member of Zeta Beta Tau on March 10, 1929. He joined[17] Kappa Phi Sigma in 1930 and Pi Delta Phi in 1931[18].

The Daily Illini

The Daily Illini is a student-run newspaper that has been published for the community of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1871. Leon Harrison Epsteins was one of the night assistants for The Daily Illini from October 6, 1928. In 1930 he became one of the junior news editors on September 10 until October 11. He was mentiones as one of the campus staff in 1930[19], 1931[17] and 1932[18], and all his signed articles are related to campus.

Articles written by Leon H Epstein


  • February 16: Mentioned to attend the informal dance given by chapter Alpha Xi of Zeta Beta Tau at Washington university
  • March 16: "Dr M M Leighton shows geological growth of state", an article
  • March 27: "Woman physician was lone doctor for 2 000 000 Chinese", an article
  • April 14: "Living jellyfish breed in fake ocean conditions", an article
  • April 20: "Fever extinction is epochal feat, says dr Howard", an article
  • May 26: "Prof Moore says ideas on metal changed in '90's", an article
  • September 27: "Life in German schools freer; Heubaum says", an article on Dr Noyes new assistant
  • October 2: "German chem finding made war possible", an article on nitric acid process
  • October 10: "Search is usless", an article about Charles Lindberg
  • October 22: "What! English major shouts, a lampshade!", an poetic article
  • October 23: "Dr. Fishbein traces life of quackery", review from Hillel foundation
  • October 29: "Jewish sisterhood of state to hold two-day meeting", speaking at a convention of the Jewish Sisterhood chapters
  • November 14: "Woman's orchestra scores in concert", review of a concert
  • November 22: "Cheyney sais English lead in democracy", an article
  • December 11: "Pioneer revals work as botanist within plant lab", an article
  • December 13: "Faculty Actores' Comedy Piece Well Portrayed", review of the play "The Silver Cord".


  • February 14: "Lincoln Theater will be equipped in modern style", an article
  • March 7: "Prof Moraus traces trend of literature", an article
  • March 7: "Miss Kelso has article in uni studies volume", an article
  • March 8: "Moraud discusses English criticism", an article
  • March 13: "Public welfare leader explains aim of therapy", an article
  • March 21: "Samuel says intellectual fake is peculiar to modern age", an article about a conference by Maurice Samuel
  • March 22: "Berdahl claims US has always favored league", an article
  • March 29: "Reporter tells stage activities of beggar play", an article about a theatre play
  • April 4: "Jewish thought characterized by dr Goldman in address", an article
  • April 12: "Rare ivory comb being displayed", an article
  • April 27: "Youthful musicians wander 'neath the shadows of the ages", an poetic revue
  • October 21: Mentioned as chairman for a student tea dance at Hillel
  • No short stories with, or drawnings of, anything reminiscent of Mandrake or comics by Leon H Epstein are to be find in The Daily Illini.


  1. The objective of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity (still currently in action with 90 chapters and colonies in the United States) is to develop, among its members, awareness and social responsibility as well as individual integrity. Founded in 1898, it was originally destined to the Jewish community before to be opened to a larger student brotherhood in 1954. At the time of the Lee Falk’s membership, the fraternity Chapter house (Rho Chapter established in 1912) was located at 907 South Fourth Street, Chicago.
  2. Interesting in 1932 his brother, Leslie, was one of the freshmen in Zeta Beta Tau.
  3. Pi Delta Phi was founded as a sorority at the University of Chicago in 1906. In 1932 there was eight active chapters including the Epsilon Chapter (from 1927) at the University of Illinois. It looks like Pi Delta Phi Epsilon chapter had both male and female members from 1929. The object of the Pi Delta Phi was: "To improve scolarship, and to promote an interest in the field of French Language and literature".
  4. Kappa Phi Sigma was founded at the University of Illinois in 1867. In 1932 there was ten active chapters including the Philomathean Chapter at the University of Illinois. The object of the Kappa Phi Sigma was: "To develope cogency of thought and personal power by public speech and contact of personalities, and to stimulate cultural activities."
  5. Honors were divided into two groups: superior and high. The superior group in the upper three classes was composed of the three per cent while the high scholarship students were those in the upper 10 per cent.
  6. At the University of Illinois in 1923 the first Hillel Foundation to serve the religious needs of Jewish college students was established. By 1940 Hillel had become a major American Jewish organization with foundations serving college students at campus across the country


  1. "Local Faculty and Student Directory books", University of Illinois November 1929
  2. "857 students will be cited by university", The Daily Illini 16 May 1929, p 2
  3. "List students for program on honors day", The Daily Illini 15 May 1930, p 6
  4. "Scholars get honors today; unveil tablet", The Daily Illini 15 May 1931, p 6
  5. "Meeting of the Board of Trusters of the University of Illinois", (Degrees Conferred 13 June 1932) p 614
  6. Sanua Marianne Rachel (2003), "Going Greek: Jewish College Fraternities in the United States, 1895-1945", Wayne State University Press Detroit (Michigan, Detroit) p 203
  7. "Students will stage "Lady of Belmont" in Hillel Foundation", The Daily Illini 6 April 1929, p 6
  8. "Pereira announces cast for students film at foundation", The Daily Illini 30 April 1929, p 7
  9. "Students of Hillel Foundation to give movie in program", The Daily Illini 10 May 1929, p 11
  10. "Coach announced members of cast for Hillel drama", The Daily Illini 20 February 1930, p 8
  11. "Foundation players will present first play of semester", The Daily Illini 5 March 1930, p 6
  12. "Koolish 32 heads Hillel play cast", The Daily Illini 7 March 1930, p 1
  13. "Foundation players to continue work with second play", The Daily Illini 7 March 1930, p 11
  14. University of Illinois Archives - Hillel Post
  15. University of Illinois Archives - Leon H Epstein aka Lee Falk
  16. "300 new members wearing badges of fraternities", The Daily Illini 6 Mars 1929, p 10
  17. 17.0 17.1 "The Illini", 1931 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  18. 18.0 18.1 "The Illini", 1932 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  19. "The Illini", 1930 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection