Rolfe Memison, aka Rolfe Mason was born Rolfe Julius Memisohn in Berlin, Germany on November 5, 1905. His birthplace was on a 1923 passenger list at Ancestry.com, and his birth date is from the Social Security Death Index and the books, Die Ausbürgerung deutscher Staatsangehöriger 1933-45 nach den im Reichsanzeiger veröffentlichten Listen, Volume 1 (The Expulsion of German Citizens in the Kingdom After the 1933-45 Gazette Published Lists), and Deutschland, Index von Juden, deren deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft vom Nazi-Regime annulliert wurde, 1935-1944 (Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944), which recorded his name as “Rolf Julius Israel Memisohn”.
Rolfe, a merchant, sailed with his maternal uncle, Paul Saloschin, and his family, from Hamburg, Germany on October 3, 1923; they arrived in New York on October 14. His uncle lived at 57 East 96th Street in Manhattan. (In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Saloschin was a detective.) America was to be Rolfe’s permanent home.
He has not been found in the 1930 census. At Ancestry.com, a London phone book has a listing for a “Rolf J. Memison”. It’s not known how long he was in London or if he became a British citizen. ListeBerlinL said his mother, “Memisohn, Luise genannt Lucy” emigrated to England in 1937. A profile in Editor and Publisher, October 21, 1939, said:
…Born in England in 1906, Rolfe came to America for the first time in 1923, and it was here that he received his first artistic encouragement. He copied a Rembrandt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, taking two days from his job of packing radio receivers, and the reproduction sold for $5. It determined him on an art career.
Three years later he went to Paris to study art and then came several years of traveling and painting through France, Italy, Denmark and Norway. Then to Spain for five years and back to England when Spain revolted. He continues:
“Last summer I returned to the U. S. to make this my permanent home, and settled in a studio on top of a midget Gotham skyscraper (six floors). It contains a drawing table, easels, Spanish pictures, bullfight posters, two guitars, a black cat and a blond girl with blue eyes named Barbara.
“She’s an Indiana girl, reared in Florida. We were married last year, and she has become a whiz at cooking ‘Paella Valenciana’ and bouillabaisse, and posing in a Spanish shawl.”
Rolfe hid his German roots from the public. His strip, Brenda Breeze, debuted in 1939. At some point he moved to California, where he became a naturalized citizen on August 13, 1943. His name was recorded as “Rolf Julius Memison”, and he resided at 3331 Blair Drive, Los Angeles. When his younger brother, Fritz Theodor Memisohn, was naturalized on August 11, 1944, he changed his name to Frederick Theodore Mason. His mother, as Lucy Memison, was naturalized on March 9, 1945 in Los Angeles. She passed away January 26, 1954. At some point Rolfe adopted the Mason name.
In the 1960s he produced the panel Shopping Around. Rolfe J. Mason passed away July 23, 1985 in San Luis Obispo, California, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com.