Stephen A. Miller

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Stephen A. Miller
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BornMay 31, 1940
DiedDecember 27, 1993(1993-12-27) (aged 53)
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Entrepreneur
  • Restaurateur
  • Pedagogical expert
  • Creator
  • Manufacturer
  • Distributor of significant educational and creative toys

Stephen A. Miller (May 31, 1940 - December 27, 1993) was an American entrepreneur, restaurateur, pedagogical expert, and creator, manufacturer, and distributor of significant educational and creative toys. He founded the café, The Hip Bagel on MacDougal Street in New York City's Greenwich Village with NYC restaurateur Shelly Fireman[1] in the early 1960s. He founded the restaurant Avec. He created the 1•2•Kangaroo Toy Store. He became the youngest president of a CBS division, Creative Playthings®, at 29 years old.

The Hip Bagel

The Hip Bagel[2] café opened in 1963 in Greenwich Village, NYC and was the hip place to see and be seen. It's customers included artists Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg, unknown musicians such as Bob Dylan (who lived next door), comedian Lenny Bruce, filmmaker Woody Allen and many others of New York's hippest, all before they became famous, including Joan Rivers, Dick Cavett, Barbra Streisand,and Mabel Mercer. It was opened by Stephen A. Miller, who came up with the idea of making the ubiquitous bagel, New York’s originally Jewish staple, but enjoyed by the diverse citizens of NYC – hip. He had no experience in the restaurant business but opened in 1963 in the West Village on MacDougel Street, of Bob Dylan song fame. The 1960s became the defining moment for those coming of age at this time. Young people wanted an end to the Vietnam War and were active in the Civil rights movement. Long hair, Bell-bottoms, and Folk rock became the new subculture. Hippie and Beatnik found a comfortable place to spend hours discussing philosophy, music and art. The Hip Bagel was mentioned in Woody Allen’s film Play It Again, Sam (film). After he finished his stand-up performances at The Gaslight Cafe, satirist Lenny Bruce would show up for a bagel and a shmear. After playing there, José Feliciano got his big break. The Hip Bagel was written up in Earl Wilson (columnist)'s New York in a chapter entitled Beardos, Weirdos, and Espressos, pages 148-149 © 1964 by Earl Wilson, published by Simon & Schuster, Rockefeller Center, 630 Fifth Avenue, NYC. Stephen Miller went on to open his next restaurant venture, Avec.


Avec, a French restaurant, opened in November, 1964, located a block from The Hip Bagel on Bleecker Street, also in Greenwich Village. The menu at Avec was in the form of a Möbius Strip and customers were given toys to play with as they waited for their orders. Stephen and Avec were written about in the November 17, 1964 issue of New York Herald Tribune, on page 23, in Priscilla Tucker's column.[2]

1 • 2 • Kangaroo

At this time Stephen began what would become his lifelong focus on play and toys, and the effects of toys on the development of children and what kind of adults they become. He had recently established his unique toy store, 1 • 2 • Kangaroo, located at the triangle corner of Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue (Manhattan). This store sold unusual toys, both antique and modern. Stephen had negotiated for the exclusive American rights to import certain European toys by such distinguished designers as Lis and Kurt Naef of Naef Spiele, Peer Clahsen, Fredun Shapur, Patrick Rylands, and many others. Stephen lived in an apartment at the rear of the store. During this time he was photographed in the nude by Diane Arbus. The store was patronized by artists Joseph Cornell, whose boxes contain some items he bought there, and the painter Marcel Duchamp who visited the store frequently. Stephen Miller and all three of his Greenwich Village ventures, The Hip Bagel, 1•2•Kangaroo, and Avec were mentioned in the November 26, 1964 edition of the Village Voice.[3]

Creative Playthings

CBS (the Columbia Broadcasting System) acquired 1 • 2 • Kangaroo along with the exclusive distribution rights to these European toys, and made Stephen Miller President of Creative Playthings®, another CBS acquisition. He was the youngest President at 29 years old of a CBS Division. His office bookshelves were filled with toys in addition to books. Fredun Shapur, in addition to designing toys, puzzles and books for Creative Playthings® also designed their new logo. Fredun's work from this time for Creative Playthings® was featured in the September 23, 2014 edition of WIDEWALLS Magazine[4] in a feature on Shapur's exhibition at Kemistry Gallery in London, U.K[5]. Stephen and Creative Playthings® were featured in the January, 1970 (citation needed) issue of Esquire (magazine) as well as in articles in the January 1973 issue of Saturday Review (U.S. magazine).[6] He also appeared on the The David Susskind Show discussing creative play for children on December 29, 1969[7], and in the film, Crayon People by Steven Skloot in 1982.


  1. Goldsmith, Margie (27 August 2018). "NYC Restaurateur Who Made the Bagel Hip and Vegetables Sexy". Forbes. Retrieved 25 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Tucker, Priscilla (17 November 1964). "Toys for the First Course". The New York Herald Tribune.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Wilcock, John (26 November 1964). "The Village Square". the village VOICE. Retrieved 27 September 2016.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. Nastasijevic, Asja (23 September 2014). "Creative Playthings". WIDEWALLS Magazine. Retrieved 25 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "Creative Playthings | Widewalls". Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  6. Meehan, Thomas (January 1973). "CREATIVE (AND MOSTLY UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS) PLAYTHINGS". Saturday Review. Retrieved 25 February 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. Susskind, David (29 December 1969). "The David Susskind Show". CLIPS & FOOTAGE. Retrieved 25 February 2021. {{cite web}}: Check |archive-url= value (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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