PhotographerThe Misses Selby
Image Dimensions: 24.4 x 16.1 cm | 23.3 x 15.8 cm
Support Dimensions: none
American playwright, theatrical producer, director and impresario David Belasco (1853-1931) is shown in this portrait taken by the English sisters Lilly & Emily Selby, who operated their New York photographic studio at 292 5th Ave. at the time it was taken. The photograph dates to at least 1908 or possibly the year before, as a variant from the sitting appeared that year in Everybody’s Magazine in the March issue, (p. 378) illustrating the article titled “The Actor and the Manager” by Hartley Davis.
Belasco apparently liked this photo so much he had it copyrighted in 1909, with a cropped version later appearing in the September, 1913 issue of The Theatre magazine as part of the article “Stage Realism of the Future-Illustrated” by Arthur Hornblow. (p. 86)
Although the photo has been inscribed by Belasco two years before his death, (1929) the print is likely much older as his celebrity necessitated him keeping a certain amount on hand to satisfy that fame and the public.
Print details: inscribed on print recto in black ink:
To Porter Hall with best wishes
August 10- 1929.
signed on lower margin in graphite:
The Misses Selby N.Y.
The American character actor Porter Hall (1888-1953) is perhaps best known as “the nervous, ill-tempered Granville Sawyer, who administers psychological tests to Macy’s employees (including Kris Kringle), in Miracle on 34th Street.” (1.)
Original copy for this entry posted to Facebook on September 17, 2012:
Miracle on 34th Street, one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid, came back to me in an unexpected way after I had purchased this platinum print of the important theatrical producer and playwright David Belasco a while back. That’s because it had been personally inscribed to Porter Hall, the American character actor who some may remember as the devious Macy’s employee Granville Sawyer, who managed to get Kris Kringle committed to Bellevue before the court room scene in the movie declared him the real Santa Claus.
1. Porter Hall: Wikipedia accessed: September, 2012