A popular novelist of the 1960s and 1970s, Jack Hoffenberg was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 8, 1906. He was the youngest son among Barney and Faye (Fannie Buch) Hoffenberg's five sons and four daughters. He attended Baltimore City College, the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. His studies were concentrated in art and journalism. He studied sculpture under Reuben Kramer.
As a young man, he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps and served as an officer under General Frank A. Evans in the U. S. Constabulary in "Papa Doc" Duvalier's Haiti for three and one-half years. Following his service in the Marines in 1937, Hoffenberg joined the Kaufman Advertising Agency in Washington, D.C., as an account executive. On October 5, 1939, Hoffenberg married Mary Joel Kramer, a public information officer, from Winchester, Virginia. He returned to military service during World War II, serving in the U. S. Army in Italy; at war's end, he left the army as a major. Upon the termination of his military career, Hoffenberg opened his own advertising agency in Baltimore, handling industrial accounts.
Hoffenberg first saw southern California in the late 1920s and decided to live there some day. He finally relocated there in 1954 after realizing, to his consternation, that he had become nothing but an administrator. His first California residence was in Sherman Oaks, and, in 1960, he settled in Studio City. At the age of fifty-three he began to devote serious effort to writing, which he characterized as "the most fun you can have with your clothes on." Sow Not In Anger, his first novel, was purchased by the first publisher who read it in 1961. For the next sixteen years, Hoffenberg regularly spent the day at an office near his home, composing a daily quota of chapters. He published ten novels, wrote a number of short stories including a children's story, and outlined several screenplays and teleplays during this period; see Appendix A for a list of his published novels.
In addition to being a disciplined writer, Hoffenberg was a meticulous researcher. In his historical and topical novels, he used knowledge gained from his extensive travels throughout Europe, Central and South America, the Pacific, and Israel. A Thunder At Dawn is based on his military experiences in the Caribbean. His familiarity with Southern cities is evident in his three novels set in the southern United States. While working on The Desperate Adversaries, Hoffenberg spent ten months with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, riding in patrol cars and working with homicide, narcotics, burglary, and vice crews.
Hoffenberg was a dedicated member of the Los Angeles writing community. He served three terms as president of the West Coast chapter of P.E.N. (Poets, Editors, and Novelists) International and frequently lectured at college campuses, libraries, and literary groups in the Los Angeles area. He also picketed when the members of the Writers' Guild struck for better pay and recognition.
Hoffenberg was devoted to sports throughout his life--first as an athlete and then as a spectator. He took time from his arduous writing schedule to enjoy professional football and baseball games. As a young man, he played basketball and baseball with teams sponsored by the Jewish Educational Alliance. He also played football and handball. Among his interests were amateur photography, the "old-time ukulele," although he could not read a note, and shooting craps.
Hoffenberg died in Studio City, California, on March 23, 1977, after a short illness. He was survived by his wife, his brothers Harry and Albert Hoffenberg, and his sisters Mrs. Rose H. Jacobs, Mrs. Shirley Pinsler, and Mrs. Edythe Lewis.