Below are two biographies of Howard. The first by his son Ray Karno and the second by Russ Davidson, a long-time friend and colleague. Also here is the link for the obituary by Jeff Weber written for the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America. http://hq.abaa.org/books/antiquarian/abaapages/karno_obit
HOWARD KARNO BIOGRAPHY- RAY KARNO
June 3, 2012
Howard Laurence Karno made his worldly debut on August 15, 1930 in Los Angeles, California. He was the first of three children born to David & Ann Karno. Howard led an extraordinary life and spent his last 22 years residing in Valley Center, a small town near San Diego, California. As his friend J Michael Walker described him, Howard was a “Bon vivant, expert on all things Latin American, a true raconteur and bibliophile, an immensely knowledgeable dealer in fine antiquarian books, a role model dad, and an all-around Good Guy.”
Sadly, and after a brief hospital stay, Howard succumbed to complications from heart disease on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2012. For decades, he had bravely fought and won battles against various ailments including leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, and life-long asthma. Ultimately, it was the heart of this “Big-Hearted” man that failed his 81-year old body and his extremely sharp mind. By his side when he passed away were two key women in his life: his loving wife of 32 years, Beverly Karno, along with his dearest first cousin, Cynthia Drennon.
It took Howard four tries to get it right, but when he met Beverly he hit the ball out of the park. With a tremendous love between them, Howard and Beverly lived in an art-filled home warmed by numerous dogs (mostly German Short-Haired Pointers), ran a successful book dealership from that home which employed 6 full time employees, and managed to travel constantly all over the world. It was Beverly’s love and support that made it possible for Howard to live life to the fullest. In fact, at the time of his passing they had yet another foreign trip planned, in this case a book seller’s convention in Trinidad. Howard absolutely adored traveling to conduct business and to engage with his many close friends residing all over the world.
When Howard and Beverly met he was already thrice married, thrice divorced and had no less than six children. Moreover, his children were supremely important to him. Beverly accepted him and embraced his large family along with active participation in his business, Howard Karno Books, for which she now has full responsibility as Howard’s widow.
Ever since his marriage to Beverly, Howard made it a point to have one or two family parties each year where his progeny and other family members and friends could join together and celebrate. He attended all of these parties including the last one held on February 4, 2012. Howard is survived by his two siblings: brother Marvin Karno (married to Adrianna Karno) and sister Sheila Brent, both residing in Los Angeles. He is also survived by all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as follows:
Howard’s six children: Steven Karno (married to Maki Karno), Stacy Karno-Palcic (married to Robert Palcic), Ray Karno (married to Hillary Karno), Richard Karno, Jennifer Karno, and Nick Karno (engaged to Stacey Kalish)
Howard’s six grandchildren: Dane Dyck, Grant Miki Karno (engaged to Catherine Phan), Tessa Robeson (married to Matt Robeson), Elle Karno-Palcic, Julia Frers-Karno, and Ronan Madden
Howard’s two great grandchildren: Devin James Robeson and Rylan Robeson
Howard maintained friendship with his former wife, Maria Searson (deceased) and her son Tom and his family
Throughout his life, Howard resided mostly in Los Angeles and San Diego counties of Southern California, but he also spent several years living in Texas (SMU University), New Jersey (Air Force), and Peru (Doctorate Studies in Latin American History). For a brief period as a child, he lived in San Francisco, CA.
As a young man, Howard served in the US Military in the role of Radar Intelligence in the U.S. Air Force from 1950 – 1954.
Howard was a life-long student, receiving his formal degrees of MA and Ph.D. from UCLA in 1970. His area of study was Latin American History. For several years he taught college-level courses at Santa Monica City College and UCLA.
Howard’s long-term career was proprietor of a successful book business, founded as Libros Latinos in 1973 which was sold and then began as Howard Karno Books in 1975. His specialty was both art and antiquarian books from all over Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. His expertise in these field made him a highly sought after authority to scholars everywhere. He earned a reputation as a Book Dealer with the highest level of integrity. Howard was a proud member of the Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.
An important aspect of his business was travel. Howard had business and personal friendships all over the world. His business dealings (and love of personal travel) took him to numerous countries including: Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands), Venezuela, Panama, Bolivia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Finland, Turkey, Portugal, Barbados, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Russia, Japan, Canada and many of the 50 states in the USA.
Another important aspect of his business was his love of language. Howard was a linguist with a mastery of both English and Spanish, and he continued to study Portuguese as well throughout his adult life.
In addition to cherishing time spent with his large family, Howard had numerous interests: Reading all kinds of books (both fiction and non-fiction), browsing through Book Stores, studying History, visiting Libraries and Universities, Traveling everywhere, enjoying Film, Art, Theater and Music, playing with his Dogs, sharing Humor, owning/driving Sports Cars, eating Exotic Cuisine, discussing Politics, following Sports (mostly Football, and in years past Auto Racing and Track & Field), smoking Cigars and Tobacco Pipes (given up many years ago due to health reasons), supporting The San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido, The San Diego Parkinson’s Foundation, exchanging Unusual Gifts, and developing Great Friendships World-Wide including a Profound Admiration of Women. Howard truly loved the women in his life.
On the subject of sports cars, Howard maintained a life-long passion. He may have been the world’s longest subscriber to two periodicals: Road & Track and Car & Driver. He was especially fond of vintage sports cars, having owned the following: an Alfa Romeo, two Aston Martins (DB 2 and DB 4), a BMW, a Corvette, a Lancia, a Morgan, and an extremely rare 1937 SS Swallow Jaguar.
As with all members of the Karno clan, Howard loved to eat. Some of his favorite foods included: Apricots, Tres Leches cake, a good steak, creamed spinach, lettuce quarters with blue cheese dressing, pancakes and Belgian waffles, popovers, peach pie, ice cream, banana cake, gingerbread and Earl Gray teas
Maternal Grandmother Sonia Lukoff
Maternal Grandfather Frederick Lukoff
Uncle David Lukoff
Aunt Sylvia Lukoff
Cousin Fred Lukoff
Cousin Michelle Lukoff
Aunt Ruth Lukoff Moss
Cousin Rodney Moss
Cousin Steve Moss
Aunt Pearl Lukoff Melinkoff
Cousin Mark Melinkoff
Cousin David Melinkoff
Cousin Donna Melinkoff
Aunt Harriet Lukoff Siedorf
Uncle Myron Siedorf
Cousin Sharon Siedorf Cardenas
Cousin Debbie Siedorf
Howard Karno Books, Inc.: www.karnobooks.com
In commemoration of Howard’s 80th Birthday, there was a blog created by Beverly Karno with entries by many of Howard’s friends. The blog can be seen here: http://howardkarno.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/hello-world/
An Oral History by Mark Grover: http://www.karnobooks.com/karno/images/Howard%20Lawrence%20Karno.pdf
Oral Interview Antiqurian Booksellers Association of America: http://hq.abaa.org/books/antiquarian/abaapages/karno.html
In addition, “Howard Karno – From Baby to Eighty” was a video presented to Howard at the family party that occurred at the time of his 80th birthday: http://www.photodex.com/share/raykarno/896m8mg4
BIOGRAPHY BY RUSS DAVIDSON
Howard Karno, a major figure in the antiquarian book trade, whose company—Howard Karno Books—supplies a wide range of material to libraries, research institutes, museums, and private collectors in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, passed away on Monday, May 28, 2012, in Escondido, California . He was 81. The immediate cause of death was an infection, contracted during a lengthy hospital stay. From its humble beginnings nearly four decades ago, Howard Karno Books steadily grew into one of the leading sources of new and older material on the history, literature, arts, and architecture of Latin America and the wider Hispanic and Lusophone worlds. Both individuals and institutions frequently turned to the company in their search for historical manuscripts and for out of the way material in formats varying from printed ephemera to posters, comic books, sheet music, artists’ books, photographs, book plates, and more.
Howard Karno, the moving spirit behind this enterprise, was born in Los Angeles, California on August 15, 1930, the eldest child of an entrepreneurial father whose business interests ranged from pharmaceuticals and the liquor trade to clothing and parking lots in downtown Los Angeles. After completing high school, Howard enrolled at UCLA in 1948, but his scholarly vocation—like his entrance into the book trade—lay a good many years in the future. After a semester, he transferred to Southern Methodist University, but finding Texas, and the SMU campus, no more to his liking, returned home in 1949 to work, as he put it, in “the business of parking lots.” He was to do this, on and off, for the next twenty years, largely owing to the pressures of supporting a growing family. But for a man of his temperament and intellectual curiosity, a life could not be made in parking lots; the question was not whether he would break out of this mould, but when. That question was answered in 1961, when Howard returned to university, to pursue graduate work at UCLA. Influenced by a trip he made in the early 1960s to Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Peru, he chose to specialize in Latin American history, spending a year in Lima consulting material in the national archive for a dissertation on the Peruvian president and strong-man, Augusto B. Leguía. The 1960s were a stressful period in his life, as he juggled work, study, and the responsibilities of being a father (six children came along between 1953 and 1969). Yet Howard persisted, and in 1970 was granted the Ph.D. in Latin American History. Academic positions, however, were few and far between. Moreover, he realized, after some brief stints teaching, that the classroom and lecturing, and the rather institutionalized life that went with them, were not what he wanted. He wanted the freedom to be on his own, and he had always loved books, always—as he described it in a 2006 interview—“been a haunter of book stores,” so he decided to enter the book business, focusing on what he knew best—Latin America. In 1973, starting with no more than the books he had acquired while researching his dissertation, he founded Libros Latinos, which became the first service to cover all of Latin America and the Caribbean, and issued his first catalog. In 1975, he left a partnership he had formed with two other bookmen, George Elmendorf and Howard Madden, and continued on his own, as Howard Karno Books, Inc.
The business steadily built a reputation for providing extensive coverage of out of print books in Latin American history and allied fields, becoming known to a wider and wider circle of librarians, bibliographers, and collectors, as it issued catalogs (eventually more than 200) in specialized areas such as geneaology, railroads, canals, and mining. In the late 1980s, displaying its trademark virtuosity for innovation, the company (on the initiative of Howard’s wife and partner, Beverly Joy Karno) spotted a field that was rich in scholarly importance but severely underserved by North American (or any other) bookdealers—the architecture and visual arts of Latin America and the Caribbean. The systematic coverage it began to provide of publications in this field was emblematic of the role it has sought to play in helping libraries build up collections of specialized material existing outside the mainstream trade and its customary channels of distribution. While these efforts on the part of Howard Karno Books have made a lasting contribution to the study of Latin American history and culture, it is nonetheless Howard Karno the man who will be remembered by most, remembered for his exuberant love of life and bottomless well of kindness and generosity, his undying interest in the world and all that it contained, his gift of laughter and love of conversation, and his great devotion to family and friends and commitment to social justice. His was a fully realized life, because it was lived with and for others. The words of the English writer Peter Quennell have never rung more true than they do in the feelings we have for Howard: “We are grateful to those we love for the quality of the emotions they happen to arouse in us, and for the imaginative release they provide from the prison of the self.” [With much appreciation to Russ Davidson for creating this biography)
Howard Karno is much loved and will always be remembered by all his friends and family.