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David Wynshaw

PVT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co A


Born 1921 in NY, Died 2006

County of residence at enlistment: Kings County, NY
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: purchasing agents and buyers, n.e.c
Notes: birth name David Wisnewitz
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; Col John Walker List

David Wynshaw was born David Wisnewitz in Brooklyn, New York on February 25, 1921. He was the youngest of four children born to immigrant parents—his father was a tailor from Russia and his mother from Lithuania.

David, his brothers, and his sister-in-law all changed their names from Wisnewitz to Wynshaw in October, 1941.

At the time he filled out his draft registration, in February 1942, he was working for Jack Braunstein in New York City.

A few months later when he enlisted (August 31, 1942) he stated that he was a high school graduate, and his civilian occupation was in the category of "purchasing agents and buyers."

He served in the Army until October 19, 1945; his brother Bernard also served in the Navy during roughly the same three-year time period. An October 1945 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that he was awaiting discharge at Camp Sibert in Alabama, and that he had been a member of the "Rubber Army" in Europe during the war.

Dave married Frances Greenberg on September 3, 1946; Frances pursued an art education at Cooper-Union in the early years of their marriage. At some point they moved to Manchester CT, where he (or possibly they?) opened a bridal/formal store called Wynshaw's Bridal Shop in Hartford. City directories say that he was the president, and was there in 1953 and 1956, probably earlier.

In about 1956, the family (Dave, Frances, daughter Diane, and one or two other children) relocated to the Los Angeles area, and in 1960 he was hired by CBS Records to work as their west coast sales representative.

In 1963, the Wynshaws moved back East when Dave took over as CBS Records branch manager for New York/Newark.

At some point, he became Senior Director of Artist Relations, a job where he was responsible for keeping people happy—singers, their managers and agents, and record executives.

According to several sources, he was involved in the signing of various 60s icons in the CBS Records lineup, including Santana, Chicago, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Janice Joplin.

In 1967, Clive Davis, another Brooklyn boy, was made president of CBS Records Group, and Wynshaw also served as Davis' right-hand man.

Early in 1973, with the uptick in rock 'n' roll clients, Wynshaw was moved out of artist relations (CBS was obviously looking for a younger candidate for this position) and was appointed Senior Director of Special Events. Here he was in charge of conventions, meetings, and parties, and also continued to direct relationships with so-called "MOR" (middle of the road) artists.

A Vanity Fair article in 2000 says that " around Columbia he [Wynshaw] was known as 'Mr. Gotcha.' Two tickets to a Knicks game 15 minutes before tipoff? Front-row seats at the Copa when Tony Bennett’s in town? Fly 700 people to a Vegas convention in the middle of an airline strike? Gotcha could get anything." In the same article, Paul Simon describes Wynshaw as "Clive's procurer."

Dave Wynshaw was fired by Clive Davis in April, 1973, when an FBI investigation turned up his potential involvement in various scandals involving drugs, prostitution, payola, and mob connections. Wynshaw implicated Davis for billing CBS Records for renovations to his apartment and his son's Bar Mitzvah, among other items, and Davis himself was fired on May 29, 1973.

A 1973 Rolling Stone article describes Wynshaw's role at CBS Records. "He worked with hotels and travel agents, sometimes handling conventions of 1,000 people. In that capacity, it was said, he—and probably others at Columbia—was involved in some computer scheme. 'All billings,' one source said, 'come out of a computer. When needs exceeded what was budgeted for his department—you couldn’t keypunch drugs and broads—he’d program for reimbursement, and the computer would program an OK.” The excesses, the source said, were rumored to have reached $500,000. And the operator, it was said, had to have either received authorization from higher up, or been guilty of outright embezzlement."

Wynshaw's personal assistant, Ira Sherman, described him in the same Rolling Stone article as "as “a real big person, with a big way around him. He was known at all the major clubs; he presented a diamond pinkie-ring image, but he wasn’t a seedy character, wheeling and dealing. He was a good person and probably didn’t deserve the treatment he got. He would forego weekends with his family rather than leave something to be done.”

Davis, of course, blames Wynshaw. He describes his version of events in his 2012 autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life. "The task of firing Wynshaw was not a pleasant one. He was an extremely likable guy, as everyone who works in artist relations tends to be. . . . When I moved out of the legal department to begin taking over Columbia Records, he was already established in the record division as an affable person who knew how to get things done quickly and efficiently—the very point of artist relations. If Barbra Streisand was performing somewhere, Dave could get flowers to her dressing room at the last minute. If an important manager was in town and wanted tickets to a sold-out Broadway show, Dave knew whom to call.

"Tasks like that might sound trivial, but they are never-ending at a record company, and you don’t want to be on the other end of the phone line when such niceties are botched or overlooked. But even more important, Wynshaw was adept at arranging for hotel rooms and flights and putting together the logistics for all the special business events and showcases that the record division staged at industry conventions and elsewhere. Increasingly, as the demands of my job at Columbia grew exponentially, I made the mistake of delegating more and more of such responsibilities, both professional and personal, to Wynshaw. That made my life much more manageable, and it freed me to concentrate on the creative work I thrived on. But, although I didn’t at all realize it at the time, it turned out to be a very unfortunate mistake, and I was to pay dearly for it." Davis claimed that Wynshaw had falsified the invoices.

The FBI's search for payola ultimately proved unsuccessful. Clive Davis bounced back in the record industry, founding Arista Records in 1974, and serving as its president for 25 years. Wynshaw served a one-year jail sentence for conspiracy and mail fraud, lost his wife to divorce, and moved to Florida, where by 1977 he was working as VP and General Manager for Tropical Record Distributors in North Miami.

In a 2000 interview in the Washington Post he looked back: "'Everyone knows I took the fall for Davis . . . How does a man run a bar mitzvah that he doesn't know about?' The circumstances of his exit, Wynshaw says, 'ruined me,' though he still admires Davis's talents. 'I have no animosity. The guy doesn't want to know me, that's fine.'"

Dave's daughter Diane Wynshaw-Boris, a college student at the time of the scandal, would go on to become a lawyer with a specialty in contract law in the public and private sectors. She currently serves "of counsel" in the Office of General Counsel at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and her husband, Tony Wynshaw-Boris, is a medical geneticist at the same university, and President of the American Society of Human Genetics.

David Wynshaw died on May 5, 2006 in Miami, and is buried at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla NY, in the Friars' Club plot.


1940 census

1941 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the family name change

1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1945 article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

1946 marriage record

1953 Hartford CT directory

1959 Hartford Courant article (documents 1956 move to CA)

1973 article in Naples Daily News re record industry payola

1963 Billboard article re his appointment to NY & Newark branch head

1973 Rolling Stone article re record industry scandal with much info on Wynshaw

1994-2002 US phone and address directories in Miami

2000 Vanity Fair article re Clive Davis, and Wynshaw's role at CBS records

2001 Washington Post article - reflecting on the scandal many years later (quotes Wynshaw)

2006 VA death record

2006 Social Security death record (shows 1941 name change)

2006 Find a Grave record

2012, The Soundtrack of My Life by Clive Davis (This book is available online as a PDF but I couldn't copy the link (it just kept downloading the PDF)

Brief biography in (mentions "host Army"!!)

GENI entry that shows David's daughter's name

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