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 Dave Elman, The Man
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United Kingdom
445 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2005 :  1:59:31 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Prior to 1985 Dave was virtually unknown by most
hypnotherapists.. I am proud to be the person who
brought his teachings and knowledge to all
hypnotherapists by republishing his book and the
recordings of his classes in Medical Hypnosis.
This article reveals certain information about Dave Elman
that is largely unknown.. Yet, it gives an insight into the
character and integrity of the Man.--Gil Boyne

DAVE ELMAN: THE MAN by Martin Segal, Hypnotherapist
: About 25 years ago, , I came up with what I thought
was a great idea for a program which would surely attract
a large audience, I'd write to the great Dave Elman and
invite him to be our speaker. , I wrote the letter and a few days later
received a phone call from Mr. Elman accepting my
invitation. Of course, we did have a large turnout, not
only from our own chapter's mailing list, but contingents
from Pennsylvania and other localities as well. Some time
later, when our friendship ripened, I asked Dave about his
acceptance to a "lay -group" and he candidly told me that
"there was something about that letter ... !" I'll always
cherish the memories of the close friendship that
developed our frequent get-togethers, either at the
Elman's home or ours, wonderful discussions including
occasional disagreements; which never deterred either of
us. I'll remember the sadness of his final days, our visit
with him the night before he passed away (even making him
laugh with a corny joke) and attending his funeral - my
wife Dorothy and I virtually the only non-family there.
Most of the hypnosis world knows only one particular
phase of Dave Elman's life - hypnosis. But there is
another side which I'd like to share, fascinating and
interesting to say the least, and as you'll see,
intriguing as well.

Dave Elman was born May 6, 1900 in Park River, North
Dakota and died on December 5, 1967. His interest in
hypnosis was stimulated at an early age by his father who
was an accomplished hypnotist. When Dave was 8 years old
he began to realize the vast possibilities of hypnosis in
the relief of pain. This occurred when his father was
dying of cancer and a family friend relieved the
intractable pain quite rapidly with hypnosis, This friend
was a well-known hypnotist with an enviable fame for
performing outstanding feats. Young Dave never forgot how
his Dad was afforded relief not available from traditional
medical procedures. In his early teens, Dave started
working in show business during his school vacations,
usually as a comic. One season he did a hypnosis act, but
soon gave it up when he found that parents objected to
their daughters dating him. They were actually afraid of
the "power" he'd wield over them.

Dave, who was an accomplished musician, specializing in
saxophone and violin, loved show business. He wrote all
his own material as well as songs. One season he tried New
York and worked in night clubs for a while. He didn't
enjoy this type of work so he gave it up and got a job
working for music publishers. It was at this time that
Dave became acquainted with the famous W. C. Handy, with
whom he worked for some years, writing quite a few songs
together. In fact, years after Dave had given up this
phase of his work, Handy sent him a contract for royalties
on a couple of songs that they had written, W.C. and other
members of the Handy family became Dave's close friends.
It was while working with Handy that Dave met the woman
who was to share his life, the future Pauline Elman.
During the years 1923-1928, Dave was so anxious to break
into radio that he made a living at a daytime job and
worked for free on various radio networks in the evenings
and on holidays and weekends. In 1928, he got his first
paying job with radio station WHN. Soon after, he was
hired by Columbia Broadcasting System and worked on every
major radio station in the metropolitan New York area,
where he became known as an idea man. He wrote, produced,
directed and performed in his own shows as well as others.
Dave worked with many of the great names in radio and one
season took his Hobby Lobby Show to California to replace
the Jack Benny show when that group wanted a vacation. He
wrote a number of Kate Smith shows and worked with all the
major advertising agencies.

Many show people do charitable work and Dave was no
exception. He would often get a group of his friends
together to put on a show for some worthy cause. In 1948,
he arranged such a benefit and a few days before the show
date was informed that the group would not be back in town
in time for the performance. Elman was on the spot; it
would be impossible to get another group together on such
short notice. What could he do? How could he entertain an
audience for a couple of hours? He hit on the idea of a
hypnosis show, something he hadn't done in years. The
performance was a success and afterward he was approached
by a group of doctors who asked him to teach them what he
knew about hypnosis. Apparently, though they had taken
courses, they had all tried it but failed. Dave agreed to
teach them and gave a course to a group of twenty
physicians. When that course was over, the doctors had
another group of twenty waiting for another course, and so
it grew.

Dave was then faced with a difficult derision; he loved
his work in radio, but he wanted to teach hypnosis. It had
to be one or the other. The rest is history. He gave up
radio for hypnosis and decided to teach only physicians
and dentists in the New York-New Jersey area. Before long,
however, he was getting calls from doctors all over the
country asking him to come to their town and in many
instances they agreed to get groups together. That opened
the door to his career in teaching hypnosis all across the

At the students' request, Dave put his course on tapes and
records (now available from Westwood Publishing Co) and followed up with his now famous book "Findings in Hypnosis." Upon his death. Pauline continued to handle
the book for a while, then turned it over to Nash
Publishers who changed the name to "Explorations in
Hypnosis." It is now titled "Hypnotherapy" and is
published by Westwood Publishing Co.) The
doctors continued to refer to this material long after
finishing the course and they still do. Telephone calls
from doctors everywhere seeking advice on hypnosis soon
became an everyday occurrence. Many of his students had
taken courses from their colleagues but they had not
learned enough. As with today, there were doctors in those
days who felt that hypnosis should be their own exclusive
domain insisting that no "layman" could, or should teach
doctors anything- Dave Elman felt the sting of those
ill-advised people. Nevertheless, Dave continued to teach
and continued to gain respect and admiration.

World War II is now history and some things
which could not have been revealed at that time can now be
told. In the early war years Dave had a suite of offices
in New York City. His private office was the main room and
his wife Pauline occupied the adjoining room. One
afternoon, at about 3 or 4 P.M., Dave was perusing some
material that Pauline had prepared while she gazed idly
out the window, fascinated by the tall buildings for which
the city is famous. Something caught her eye and she kept
watching, thinking that perhaps a child was playing a game
in a hotel window. What she saw was a light flickering
right up against the window, lasting a few seconds then
going out, on again, off, on. She called her husband's
attention to it and after studying it for a few minutes
Dave said, "That's no child playing... that's someone
giving signals! I wonder what it means... some sort of
message ... I'll bet it has something to do with the
submarines off our shores. When in doubt, check!" Not the
least concerned that he might be wrong, feeling it better
to be safe than sorry, Dave called the FBI. In a matter of
minutes an agent arrived, questioned Dave alone and when
he left, Dave left with him. When he returned he wouldn't
give Pauline any details but he did ask her not to mention
the incident to anyone. The next day Dave received a phone
call from the FBI and was told that they had arrested some
Nazis in the building across the way; they had been giving
signals for the sinking of our ships. As a result of this
incident the FBI asked Dave to do other work for them
during the war. He did many things, some of which he did
reveal even to his wife. He made it clear that this was
the way it had to be and that she must understand and go
along with it.

At that time the Elmans had the Hobby Lobby Show on the
air and the FBI had learned that the Nazis were planning
to use the program to get messages across to their spies.
The plan was to send in details of their hobbies hoping to
get on the program. Then while talking about their
hobbies, they would send messages to each other. Dave, in
those days, was extremely busy and received an average of
1,000 letters and calls a day. Obviously he couldn't take
every call and read every letter personally. It became
Pauline's responsibility to screen all calls and to handle
the mail, passing on to Dave only those letters which
demanded his personal attention. She judged the hobby
applications, discarded those which were not considered
worthwhile and saved those which she deemed worthy. These
were given to Dave, the advertising agency and the
sponsors for their approval, and if considered of show
quality, the hobbyist would be invited to appear on the

Occasionally, people would phone in information about
their hobbies, and if Pauline thought it worthwhile, she
would send out a program researcher for an interview. Now
and then the FBI would give Dave names of people they
suspected and the hobby interview would be used to elicit
certain other information which was passed on to Dave. He,
in turn, would turn the application over to the FBI
together with pertinent information. One day a caller
insisted on speaking directly to Dave. He said, "Just
mention my name; I know he's in and I know you're Mrs.
Elman. He'll take this call ' " When Pauline told Dave the
name she was quite surprised to hear him shout, "For God's
sake, put him on ... and close the door!" In a few minutes
Dave came running out of his office shouting, "if I'm not
back by 6, just go home; don't worry, I'll see you later!"
He arrived home that night at 10 o'clock.

Pauline, a typical wife and mother, was worried, of
course, and when Dave got home she was furious. She didn't
know what was going on and she didn't like mysterious
telephone calls followed by sudden disappearances. In
order to placate his wife, Dave took her into his
confidence and explained what was going on. In fact, he
said, he had discussed her with the FBI that very day
The FBI had agreed that she should be told and sanctioned
Dave's giving her some names of people, names she was to
keep in complete confidence, with whom she was to
cooperate fully, either on the phone or in person. The
office staff was not to know anything.

Then came the night that Dave and Pauline had a real
battle. They had driven home after the broadcast and
arrived about 11 P.M. As they entered the driveway Dave
suddenly said, "Quick, get your keys out right away
because I must get to the bathroom in a hurry!" Fumbling
in her purse, Pauline didn't have the keys ready by the
time they reached the door. Dave angrily grabbed her
purse, got the keys, opened the door and shoved her in,
slamming the door shut behind them. Needless to say,
Pauline was more than just a bit bewildered, especially
since he didn't head for the bathroom at all! She was
especially upset by his shouting and pushing, since he was
normally a quiet, gentle person. He said, "Let's go
upstairs, but keep away from the windows, and I'll explain
it all." What he explained frightened Pauline even more.
There had been threats against their lives, especially the
children, since the Elman’s were away from home so much.
Just before leaving the studio the FBI had called him to
report that someone was planning to kill the entire Elman
family that very night. The FBI had armed agents stationed
all around the Elman estate which consisted of 3 1/2 acres
with many trees which could afford a killer a lot of
hiding places. That was why Dave wanted to get them into
the house in such a hurry.

From that night on, though the Elman children were never
aware of it, the FBI protected them at home, at school and
at play. These were trying times for the Elman’s and all
because Pauline saw that flickering light and Dave
volunteered to help in any way he could. Dave received
citations from the FBI for his help and from the Treasury
Department for selling millions of dollars of war bonds
through the Dave Elman Victory Auctions.

And that is the other side of the Dave Elman story - a
side which is little known. Most know only of his
greatness in the field of hypnosis. This short article
cannot do justice to his gentle nature which belied his
innate courage, his firm belief in the truth and right -
always. Dave Elman was truly a great man,unselfish and
Martin M. Segal

Gil Boyne
[Gil Passed Away May 5, 2010]
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