Leo Friedman

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As Tony Award-time comes around and the theater celebrates itself, we can turn to a treasure trove of theater history in the photos of the venerable Broadway photographer Leo Friedman. WNYC’s Sara Fishko takes a quick look at Friedman’s place in Broadway history.

The photographer Leo Friedman, now 92, shot pictures of theater legends for decades during Broadway’s "Golden Age", the 1950s and 60s. Friedman's work provides us with iconic on-stage and backstage images of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, and many others. His photography was especially dynamic for the time, as he worked in the 35 mm format. Unlike some of the less flexible formats in use then, 35mm allowed him to capture actors, singers and dancers in motion.  His iconic shot of Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert (West Side Story original cast), running down the street, is one of the most familiar theater shots ever taken.  

Friedman began as an office boy for legendary producer Mike Todd, and rose quickly to become a partner in his own photography studio (Friedman-Abeles), with Broadway as his beat.  Over the years, he befriended many of the stars he photographed: he tells stories of bike-riding with Hepburn, having tea with Olivier and protecting Burton and Taylor from crowds of fans.  

To learn more about Leo Friedman, visit his Facebook fan page.


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