Holocaust Museum Shooting Suspect Claims Ad Industry Past

Said He Was a Copywriter for BBDO; Agency Has No Record of James W. von Brunn

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The man law-enforcement officials are holding responsible for a deadly shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington today, 88-year-old James W. von Brunn, claims to have worked for a time at BBDO as a copywriter and assistant art director some 50 years ago.

The agency, however, said that is not true. "We have no record of James von Brunn working at BBDO," a spokesman said.

Mr. Von Brunn -- who also claims to be a member of the high-IQ Mensa society, a World War II veteran, a film producer for a New York production house and maker of TV commercials for Elliot Unger Elliot, today known as EUE/Screen Gems -- is a convicted felon who apparently has authored the anti-Semetic book "Kill the Best Gentiles." Among the hateful rambling writings on his white-supremacist website, holywesternempire.org, he briefly describes working at BBDO and relates a story about punching a fellow agency employee while riding the elevator.

"I got a job at BBDO ad agency as a copywriter. Initially, we apprentices, Ivy Leaguers in Brooks Bros. Suits, except for me, were given interim spots in the mailroom, or production dept. until a copy spot opened up. Those that couldn't write were made account execs. I didn't like waiting. I showed the brass my art samples. They put me on the paste-up bench, assuring me an Asst. A/D job was percolating."

The story goes on to relate that the other person in the elevator made a remark relating to Mr. von Brunn's beliefs. "With that I punched him in the jaw just as the elevator doors opened onto the Executive Floor. He spun across the lobby, hit the wall dislocating his shoulder. I remember that the execs were expressionless. The doors closed and I continued going up.

"Two days later I was called in to McNulty's Office. He said, we have an Asst. Art Director's job for you. It turned out the guy I hit had assumed blame for the incident. He was a Brit. A former bomber pilot. He returned to England. I'll always be grateful to him. Suddenly I was earning $150 per week."

In his writings on the site doesn't mention any other ad agencies, though he notes he started an unidentified marketing/advertising business, on the eastern shore of Maryland.

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