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SON CARRIES ON TRADITION OF AIDING VETS.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

To understand the son, you have to go back to the father.

It's 1945, and World War II is ending. Many returning GIs are having trouble finding work, so popular bandleader Horace Heidt has invited a few of them to his hit weekly radio show, ``The Pot of Gold,'' to tell their stories.

The young soldiers talked about their experiences as, say, electricians in the service. So anyone who needed an electrician could call the U.S. Employment Bureau in their city and get a list of returning GIs who could fill that particular job.

Every week, 400 to 500 returning soldiers in this country found work, thanks to Horace Heidt giving them a national voice.

A few years later, Heidt helped the soldiers again - leaving his 4-year- old son at home while he and his band entertained U.S. troops in Korea.

That's the rich life the boy grew up with - the tradition Horace Heidt Jr. was handed 55 years ago, when a father gave his son a famous name and a legacy to carry on.

``I think my dad would be proud,'' Junior said Wednesday as he prepared for a Big Band Salute to the Armed Forces, which he will host later this month at Horace Heidt Estates in Sherman Oaks.

It will be held on Saturday, May 18 - Armed Forces Day, which doesn't seem to get much attention in this country. There'll be a few little, local gatherings and potluck dinners among veterans organizations, but not much else.

Certainly no big-band galas like Junior is throwing because, well because, it's the right thing to do. His old man taught him that.

Senior lived on the 10-acre resort estate he built in the early 1960s until he died in 1986 at age 86. It was originally built for retired musicians and entertainers, but now also provides housing to the public.

Junior has kept both the apartment resort and the orchestra his father started in 1923 going strong.

``I think any parent would feel good if one of their children carried on what they started,'' Junior said. ``None of this is an act. It's what my father loved, it's what I love.''

Last November, after Sept. 11, Junior threw a big America United gala, with all the proceeds going to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit funds.

The son's raising money and morale now, just like his father raised jobs and spirits more than 50 years earlier, for the men and women protecting this country.

It's no act. Just ask Julian Gottlieb.

He's an 83-year-old ex-gunnery instructor from World War II who just moved into the Heidt Estates last month after his wife died. He didn't know anyone, and no one knew him.

Then one day, Junior knocked on his door and welcomed the veteran to the home his father built.

``He wanted me to know he was glad I was living here now and that we had other veterans living in the complex,'' Julian said.

Then Heidt invited his new tenant to the Armed Forces Day show. Julian thanked him, and worked up the courage and nerve to make a suggestion.

He has this collection of old 33 1/3 records, and he was playing one the other day that kind of stirred him up, he said.

``It was at the end of a record, about six minutes of Sousa marches,'' Julian said. ``I was thinking it might be kind of nice to get all the veterans living here, and have them march in carrying an American flag to those Sousa marches.''

It was kind of nervy to suggest to his new landlord an opening for his big show, Julian admitted, but he figured any man who would stop by unannounced like that to welcome him to the complex had to have his heart in the right place.

He'd understand what this old veteran was trying to say. The same way his father understood in 1945 what those young GIs coming home were trying to say.

They needed a voice - deserved a voice - and he'd give them one.

If you decide to go to the Salute to the Armed Forces show May 18, look for Julian in the new opening.

He'll be one of half a dozen vets carrying an American flag in step with six minutes of Sousa marches.

The Horace Heidt Estates are located at 14155 Magnolia Blvd., in Sherman Oaks. For ticket information call (818) 784-8211.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2) Horace Heidt Jr., left, is following in the footsteps of his famous bandleader father, seen in the photo on the piano and above, in an early picture of father and son.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 2, 2002
Words:790
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