Carly Simon’s dad, Richard Simon, was the co-founder of publishing giant Simon & Schuster (like you didn’t know that).
One of Simon’s famous successes was editing and publishing a book by famed Latvian photographer Phillippe Halsman called The Jump Book.” It featured pictures of the great celebs of the day–from Marilyn Monroe t0 Danny Kaye to Richard Nixon, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin–all, well… jumping.
Halsman had invented something called “Jumpology,” meaning he asked his celebrity subjects to spring up and down for him at the end of a shoot. He had plenty of access to them since he was responsible for shooting 101 covers for Life magazine.
Halsman also had a crazy life story which probably appealed to Simon, the savvy publisher. In 1928, at the age of 22, Halsman was convicted–wrongly–for killing his own father on a ski trip in the Austria Alps. The conviction was considered anti-Semitic. By the time Albert Einstein and others helped free him, Halsman had spent two years in prison. He relocated to Paris but eventually fled the Nazis for the US in 1940, where he became a star.
Now after all these years, “The Jump Book” is back. Fifty of the original 178 prints are being shown this month in New York at the Lawrence Miller gallery at 20 West 57th St. The photos are magnificent, gorgeous and rare. The Simon & Schuster book, unfortunately, is way out of print. The few copies still around go for around $200. And guess who wrote the forward back in 1959? None other than Mike Wallace! (This was before “60 Minutes.”) Someone–maybe even S&S–should reprint that book and commission a new one. (Brigitte Lacombe, hello!)
Anyway, Halsman– to paraphrase Carly Simon–obviously didn’t have time for the pain. But we should have time to enjoy his work and contemplate a life well lived.