Photographer of Celebrities And Beatles, Henry Grossman Dies At 86!
Henry Grossman passed away on November 27 in Englewood, New Jersey. He was best known for his formal portraits of public figures and celebrities. Still, he immortalized the Beatles on film in thousands of unscripted antics while juggling a side career as a Metropolitan Opera tenor and a Broadway bit player. He was 86.
Several months after suffering injuries in a fall, according to his son David, he passed away in a hospital.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Richard M. Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Martha Graham, Leontyne Price, Leonard Bernstein, and Nelson Mandela were all the subjects of iconic pictures by Mr. Henry Grossman. He served as the official photographer for several Broadway musicals and captured new Metropolitan Opera performances for Time magazine.
On November 23, 1963, his images of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson appeared on the front page of The New York Times alongside the breaking news that the young president had been killed in Dallas the day before and had been succeeded by his vice president.
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His father, the artist Elias M. Grossman, an immigrant from Russia whose etchings were purchased by several organizations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, influenced Mr. Henry Grossman’s sensitivity to the interplay of shadow and light in classical portraiture.
By the time Henry earned his degree from Brandeis University in Massachusetts in 1958, he had amassed an outstanding collection of images from university stage performances and guest speakers’ photos. His nascent second profession as a singer would give him an understanding of performers, enabling him to forge an uncommon connection with his star subjects.
He was only 27 years old, just a few years older than the Beatles. Life magazine hired him in 1964 to document the group’s American television debut on the well-known CBS variety show “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
To capture the hirsute quartet’s explosive effect on the crowd, Mr. Grossman shot from the balcony while posing them against a tangle of television cameras, amplifiers, and other backstage obstructions. A collection of almost 7,000 images he took of the Beatles over the next four years reflects his artistic eye.
Other photographers (among them Robert Freeman, Dezo Hoffmann, Astrid Kirchherr, Jürgen Vollmer, and Robert Whitaker) were more closely associated with the Beatles than Mr. Grossman because only a small number of his photographs were published or even printed at the time, most notably a 1967 portrait for Life of the newly mustachioed band members.
But according to his publisher, Curvebender Publishing, Mr. Grossman’s stockpile of private moments at home, at social gatherings, and during nocturnal recording sessions amounted to more pictures of the band captured over a more extended period than any other photographer’s.
A limited-edition book of Mr. Grossman’s images depicting one evening at Abbey Road Studios in London while the Beatles were recording the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was published in 2008 by Curvebender under the title “Kaleidoscope Eyes.” The business released “Places I Remember” in 2012; it was a sizable book that had 1,000 of his images of the Beatles.
The Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” did not instantly turn Mr. Grossman into a fan. But he made friends with George Harrison while the Beatles was on tour in America that summer.
After that, whenever I traveled to London, Mr. Grossman explained to The Times in 2012, “I’d go into my hotel, call their office to find out George’s phone number du jour — they had to change it because the fans would find out — and I’d plan to spend the day with them.”
In “Places I Remember,” he said, “They were used to seeing me with a camera, capturing everything that went on around me.” Simply put, it was a component of who I was. In addition to that, I made a friend.
I was a friend first and a photographer second, he continued. “As a result, nobody objected when I took out my camera. Nobody gave a damn. It wasn’t thought to be intrusive.
When Was Henry Grossman Born?
On October 11, 1936, Henry Maxwell Grossman was born in Manhattan. When he was 10 years old, his father passed away, and his mother, Josephine (Erschler) Grossman, supported the family by selling the etchings that her husband had created.
Henry won a scholarship to Brandeis University after graduating from Metropolitan Vocational and Technical High School in Manhattan at 16. He studied anthropology and theatre arts there and established himself as a photographer.
He started his career as a freelance photographer for The Times, Life, Time, Newsweek, and Paris Match after moving back to New York City.
He divorced Carol Ann Hauptfuhrer after their 1973 wedding. He is survived by his sister, Suzanne Grossman, and their two professional musicians, David and Christine Grossman.
Mr. Grossman attended the Actors Studio as a student in his twenties. Tenor Mr. Grossman made his New York singing debut at Carnegie Hall in 1973 after touring with the national company of the Metropolitan Opera in the 1960s. He also performed with the Washington Opera Society and the Philadelphia Lyric Opera. He sang in three productions at the Metropolitan Opera in the following decade after giving a concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1980s conducted by Riccardo Muti.
He also performed in theatre. While working as a film photographer in Italy, he made a brief appearance in the 1978 film “Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?” He also played a scullery worker in the Broadway musical “Grand Hotel” for the duration of its run, from 1989 to 1992.
Mr. Grossman was outgoing but mainly modest, waiting to be invited rather than peeping into the personal affairs of his subjects. That is how he was able to follow George Harrison on his “Dark Horse” tour of North America in 1974 and photograph Jacqueline Kennedy’s children at home.
He was reported in the 2012 Times piece as adding, “I learned a lot from the Beatles.” “I was curious about how they utilized their popularity. It was difficult for them.
“One evening in Atlantic City, I questioned Ringo about his impressions of the country. He led me to the window of his hotel room and said, “That’s what we’ve seen,” pointing across the parking lot at a brick wall. They were imprisoned.
According to Mr. Grossman, “I suppose one reason we got along so well was that they recognized I wasn’t trying to extract anything from them.” And I could capture the images I did because I wasn’t posing them. I wasn’t inserting myself as a participant in the action. I was merely observing.
Like a fly on the wall, I was there. I took what was given.