(American, 1883-1973) Born in Alfred, Maine. He discovered photography at a young age during his childhood in Newport, Rhode Island but did not begin his professional career until moving to New York City a the age of thirty-four. Abbe is noted for his unique style of celebrity portraiture. Most notable are his theatrical portraits. Unlike most photographers of the day, he brought a battery of equipment, lights, and mirrors directly to the theaters to capture the players in their natural environment and costume. The resulting images combined the clarity of the photo studio with the vitality of the stage. Beginning in the late 1910s, Abbé's photos were featured in the pages of French and American Vogue and Vanity Fair. He traveled Europe and Russia extensively during the 1920s to 1940s making more film and stage actor portraits but also writing and recording the effects of World War II. At this time he began making portraits of political leaders; through this wartime photography and writing Abbé became a pioneer in photojournalism. After the war, Abbé moved back to the United States and worked as a television critic and radio news commentator on his own radio program, James Abbe Observes, in San Francisco.
Published October 1, 1923
The Dolly Sisters started dancing in beer halls as early as 1907 and eventually made it to the Ziegfeld Follies and then the silver screen. Here, they wear showgirl costumes, complete with ostrich-feather headdresses, in a Paris dance revue. This photograph, by James Abbé, appeared in the October 1923 Vanity Fair.
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