Odell, Harry O.

4B1 - Harry O. Odell 2 4B1 - Harry Odell - Photo 1
Plot Location 4B1
Surname Odell
Given Name(s) Harry O. (Harold Oscar)
Place of Birth Cairo
Date of Birth (Eng) March 18, 1896
Date of Birth (Heb)
Date of Death (Eng) December 19, 1975
Date of Death (Heb) 15 Tevet 5736
Age at Death 79
Hebrew Name אהרון אברהם הכהן
Spouse’s Name Sophie Rachel Odell née Weill (4B2)
Father’s Name
Mother’s Name
Other Surnames Obadovsky
Sex M
Marital Status M
Maiden Name
Title (e.g., Dr) M.B.E. (Member of the Order of the British Empire)
Religious Status (כ/ל/י) Cohen
Cause of Death
Other Family Data Sons: Jack, Albert & David Sydney (b. October 23, 1927, HK; d. April 18, 2013, Boca Raton, FL). Jack is married to Yvonne. Albert is married to Daisy. David was married to Molly Reuben and they had two children, Candice Farha Odell and Leon (“Lee”) Salim Odell. Candace is married to Julian Shapiro and they have one son, Raphael. Lee is married to Debra Sillaro and they have two children, Matthew Odell and Kate Lynn Odell.
Inscription (Heb) פה מצא מנוח הזקן אהרון אברהם הכהן נלבע בט׳ו טבת תשל״ו והיו ימיו ע״ט שנה
Inscription (Other) “MOSES & CO.” on vertical of 2nd tier at right
Historical “Harry Odell was emblematic of the peripatetic souls that continually landed in Hong Kong and made their mark here. Born Harry Obadofsky in Cairo in 1896 to Russian Jewish parents and educated in Shanghai, he worked as a tap dancer in Nagasaki before emigrating to the United States and fighting for the U.S. military in France during World War I. Following the war, he moved to Hong Kong, changed his surname to Odell, and married into a wealthy family of jewellers [the Weill family]. Odell cut his teeth in the import-export business and as a stockbroker, and was also a volunteer with the naval reserve in Hong Kong. He was wounded during the defense of Hong Kong in 1941 and became a Japanese POW. Following the war, Odell started a film distribution business and was a major force behind the construction of the City Hall theater complex, putting his stamp on the cultural life of his adopted home.” (Provided by Jason Beerman from The Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography.)

“Harry Obadofsky [sic], the son of Russian Jewish parents, was educated at St Francis Xavier school in Shanghai. He ran away from home at 16 and supported himself as a tap dancer in Nagasaki, Japan, before emigrating to the USA where he enlisted and served with the American armed forces in France in the First World War.

“In 1921 Obadofsky arrived in Hong Kong, changed his name to ‘Odell’ and married Sophie Weill, whose family owned the prestigious Hong Kong jewellers Sennet Frères. They had three sons. Odell worked in an import-export firm, then as a stockbroker, and was a volunteer with the Naval Reserve in Hong Kong, joining as a warrant officer in 1939. He fought in the defence of Hong Kong in 1941, was wounded, and was made prisoner of war by the Japanese.

“An affable gentleman, never without a large Cuban cigar, Odell started a film distribution business after the war. By persuading internationally acclaimed artists to perform in the colony he effectively became Hong Kong’s first impresario. Since suitable venues for the performing arts were scarce, he tirelessly lobbied the government for a permanent auditorium. As a result, the Hong Kong City Hall theatre complex was built. Odell’s MBE was awarded in recognition of his contribution to the cultural life of Hong Kong.” (Provided by Judy Green from The Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography.)

He received the M.B.E. on January 1, 1969, for “services to entertainment in Hong Kong”.

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