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Mabel Mercer photograph collection

Author: Mabel MercerCarl Van VechtenMarcus BlechmanAvery WillardStanley ConleyAll authors
Publisher: [191-?]-1986.
Edition/Format:   Image : Graphic : Photograph : English
Publication:Mabel Mercer papers,1932-1984
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The Mabel Mercer Photograph Collection depicts aspects of her personal life and her professional career as a singer and entertainer, mostly from the late 1930s to the 1980s.
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Genre/Form: Portrait photographs
Group portraits
Snapshots
Publicity photographs
Television stills
Photographic postcards
Gelatin silver prints
Dye coupler prints
Halftone photomechanical prints
Dye diffusion transfer prints
Stats
Clippings
Film negatives
Named Person: Mabel Mercer; Kelsey Pharr; Paul Anka; Tallulah Bankhead; Harry Beard; Eubie Blake; Bricktop; Roscoe Lee Browne; Sammy Davis, Jr.; Lena Horne; Rock Hudson; James Earl Jones; James B Lowe; Mary Martin; Cole Porter; Bobby Short; Noble Sissle; Ruth Warrick; Alec Wilder; Roy Wilkins
Material Type: Graphic, Photograph
Document Type: Visual material
All Authors / Contributors: Mabel Mercer; Carl Van Vechten; Marcus Blechman; Avery Willard; Stanley Conley; Walt De Lano; Morgan Smith; Roddy McDowall; James J Kriegsman; Durfey-Chalon (New York, N.Y.)
OCLC Number: 82469531
In: Mercer, Mabel, 1900-1984
Notes: Title devised by cataloger.
Some items have photographer's or photography studio's handstamp on verso; some items have photographer's blind stamp on recto; some images have either photographer's signature or name printed on recto; some photostat reproductions of paintings and drawings have name of artist on recto.
Some items have printed captions on either verso or recto; many photographs have handwritten notations on either verso or recto; some photographs bear inscriptions. Some candid shots and snapshots are either matted or mounted on paper; some snapshots are mounted in a photo album; a group of studio portraits are on mounts with damaged edges. Some items are duplicates.
Collection contains work by Carl Van Vechten, Marcus Blechman, Avery Willard, Morgan Smith, Roddy McDowall and James J. Kriegsman, among others.
Description: 880 items (1.5 lin. ft., 5 boxes) 194 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 26 x 21 cm. or smaller. 116 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 21 x 26 cm. or smaller. 81 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 18 x 13 cm. or smaller. 71 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 13 x 18 cm. or smaller. 14 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 36 x 28 cm. or smaller. 3 photographic prints : silver gelatin, b&w ; 29 x 36 cm. or smaller. 30 photographic prints : col. ; 26x 21 cm. or smaller. 89 photographic prints : col. ; 21 x 26 cm. or smaller. 143 photographic prints : col. ; 9 x 9 cm. or smaller. 3 photographic prints : col. ; 50 x 40 cm. or smaller. 5 polaroid prints : b&w ; 9 x 11 cm. 19 polaroid prints : col. ; 9 x 11 cm. or smaller. 36 photographic postcards : b&w ; 14 x 9 cm. or smaller. 23 promotional cards : halftone photomechanical, b&w ; 13 x 10 cm. 8 photostats : b&w and col. ; 36 x 28 cm. or smaller. 1 photomechanical print : col. ; 16 x 9 cm. 41 negatives : col. ; 7 x 7 cm. or smaller. 2 newspaper clippings : b&w ; 18 x 13 cm. or smaller. 1 photocopy : b&w ; 27 x 22 cm.

Abstract:

The Mabel Mercer Photograph Collection depicts aspects of her personal life and her professional career as a singer and entertainer, mostly from the late 1930s to the 1980s.

The collection consists of individual and group studio portraits, candid shots and snapshots of Mercer; her husband, Kelsey Pharr; her companion from her later years, Harry Beard; some family members and various friends; and figures from the entertainment field. Also depicted are nightclub and concert appearances, television appearances, social gatherings, and some views of her home and numerous pets. Views of Mercer's personal life or professional career prior to the late-1930s are limited; there are no views of her performing at Bricktop's Parisian clubs in the 1930s.

The personal series includes a group portrait of Mercer and her family (ca. 1910s); a group portrait of Mercer, with Clinton Rosemand, John Payne, James B. Lowe, Connie Smith and Noble Sissle, laying a wreath at Abraham Lincoln's memorial in Parliament Square, London (1928); Mercer, her husband, baritone Kelsey Pharr of the Delta Rhythm Boys, his father and others at a social gathering in New York (n.d.); studio portraits of the Delta Rhythm Boys (ca. 1940s); a group of studio portraits of her nephew, Robert Staten (1941); a snapshot of her sister Ena (1947); a series of portraits of her and her companion, Harry Beard (1960); candid views of Mercer out in the country (ca. 1960s-1970s); receiving honorary degrees from the Berklee Collge of Music (1975), the New England Conservatory in Boston (1980) and Union College in Schenectady, New York (1983); and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan (1983).

Other personal images include views and snapshots of the country house and surrounding landscape of Mercer's home in Chatham, New York (1950s-1970s); snapshots from a trip to the United Kingdom (1977); assorted studio, candid, and snapshot views of her pets, mostly cats and dogs, some of which she is posing with; portraits of some unidentified children; and several candid shots and snapshots of Mercer with family and friends at various unidentified social gatherings.

The professional series includes an unidentified studio portrait of Mercer in a tuxedo (ca. 1917) and a studio portrait of her in costume at the time of her appearance in "Chocolate Kiddies" in Vienna, Austria (ca. 1920s); some promotional cards for her appearance at the Le Ruban Bleu in New York (1941); group portraits and views of her appearance at Hamilton College, in upstate New York (1947); views of her singing at the Byline Room, New York City, with piano accompanist Sam Hamilton (1950); stills from her appearance on the television program "Playboy Club" on WBKB-TV, Chicago (1958); in performance at an unidentified Chicago venue, which was photographed by actor Roddy McDowall (1965); a group portrait of Mercer with NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins and singer/pianist Bobby Short at a luncheon for Spingarn Medal recipient Sammy Davis, Jr. (1969); performing with Bobby Short during the taping of a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television special (1972); and meeting with pianist/composer Eubie Blake and actress Ruth Warrick at the Stereo Review Awards presentation (1975).

The collection includes a number of studio portraits of Mercer, taken between the 1940s to the early 1960s, which were probably used mostly for publicity purposes. There are also some photographic and photostat reproductions of paintings and drawings of Mercer by artists Rhana and Bachardy (n.d.). A group of images collected by Mercer depict her friend Ada "Bricktop" Smith at her clubs in Paris (1930s and 1950s) and Rome (1950s), where she is shown meeting with and singing for the celebrities and socialites who were her friends and patrons. Mercer is not depicted in any of the club scenes; however, there is a snapshot of she and Bricktop posing outdoors with hiking sticks (n.d.). Also included are views of Mercer with such celebrities as actors James Earl Jones, Tellulah Bankhead and Roscoe Lee Browne, songwriter Cole Porter, and singer Lena Horne, as well as publicity photographs from Horne, actors Mary Martin and Rock Hudson, composer Alec Wilder, and singers Paul Anka and Sammy Davis, Jr., some of which are inscribed.

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