Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Carly Simon’s Dad Had the JUMP on Everyone


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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