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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Two photos of ‘People in pairs’

June 19, 2020 Phil Kaufman
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My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.

This week’s theme:

A few weeks ago I displayed a selection of pictures called “People, one at a time.” It featured shots of individuals in various settings and circumstances. (Click the link at the end of this or any other Kaufman’s Brooklyn post for the index if you want to go back and take a look through previously posted images.) I knew I’d follow that at some point with pictures of two people together, and this is that point: “People in pairs.”

I’ve tried to provide a variety of settings and circumstances, like I did with the individuals. But as you’ll see, there are a number of photos of people in entertainment. For some reason, in the ’40s and into the early ’50s, my father did a lot of business with agencies that handled entertainers — particularly jazz and big band artists. I have photos of most of the big names from that post-war era, either in rehearsals, performances, studio sessions or business settings. They’re not always in pairs, of course, but many are and I’ll show a few of them this week.

Today’s photos:

We’ll finish the week with more celebrities: three from the jazz world and one athlete. Neither of the pairings displayed were long-term or particularly close relationships, but they were more than chance encounters. In fact, these celebrities all traveled in some of the same circles and overlapped with each other. It wouldn’t have been terribly surprising to catch any three of them, or all four, together on occasion.

Dizzy and the DJ, July 6, 1949

With a “Dizzy” in the title and a trumpet in the picture, it’s probably clear to many that Dizzy Gillespie is one of the subjects here (even though he’s not the one with the trumpet). The other is the DJ who called himself “Symphony Sid” (born Sidney Tarnopol, later changed to Sidney Torin).

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (1917 – 1993) knew he wanted to be a jazz musician after teaching himself the trumpet and hearing jazz on the radio in the 1920s. For a nearly 60-year career, he succeeded beyond even his childhood hopes. In the ’40s, with Charlie Parker and others, he developed and popularized the bebop genre, which was both an outgrowth of and a departure from swing. His varied career included small groups and big bands, leadership or soloist roles, concert halls and clubs, recording and touring.

Symphony Sid became a jazz fan as a teenager, but found his calling playing the music over the air, not performing. He was one of the few white DJs of the time to play hits by leading Black musicians, and gained the appreciation and support of many Black artists, becoming personally and professionally close to many. He also won a 1949 DJ of the Year Award for his “continuous promotion of negro artists.” So it wasn’t out of the ordinary for someone like Dizzy Gillespie to drop by and offer Sid his trumpet to pantomime with in the studio.


Two crowns, January 7, 1947

These two gentlemen are both wearing crowns because one is the undisputed king in his realm, and the other is among the many royal members of a different realm. But the two realms have often crossed paths: entertainment and sports. In this case more precisely, jazz and boxing. The jazz star on the left is Lionel Hampton, with the boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson.

Lionel Hampton was a master of the vibraphone (an enhanced xylophone). After playing with many of the best jazz artists of the 1930s, he started his own band in 1940. For the next fifteen or twenty years, his bands were recognized as the most popular and exciting in jazz.

Sugar Ray Robinson was truly a boxing phenomenon. After going 85-0 as an amateur, he had 200 fights as a professional welterweight and middleweight, with only 19 losses. He held the title in one or another of those weight classes for most of his career. “Pound for pound,” he has been recognized by just about every prominent authority and organization as the best boxer of all time.

So what are these two doing together? Robinson was an active part of the New York entertainment scene. He owned and operated Sugar Ray’s restaurant in Harlem, which attracted many of the top stars in entertainment, including Lionel Hampton. (Sugar Ray’s did not have live music, so this picture was taken somewhere else, probably a club where Hampton was performing.) Robinson became interested in jazz partly with the help of Hampton’s enormous record collection, and the two continued to cross paths for years. One of those subsequent path-crossings was in 1952 when Lionel Hampton and his band recorded a song that Sugar Ray Robinson wrote, entitled “You Knock Me Out, Baby.”

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected]. I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collection 7: Photos of ‘People in pairs’

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