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© David S. Shields

Photographers for Ziegfeld #2: Edward Thayer Monroe_david    Jun 11, '09 4:27 AM
by david for group historicalziegfeldgroup #080

In 1920-21, when Alfred Cheney Johnston went to the West Coast with director A. Dwan on his sojourn as a motion picture photographer, Florenz Ziegfeld chosen Edward Thayer Monroe to be the chief publicity officer of "Sally" and "The Ziegfeld Follies."

Monroe, a native New Yorker from a family who had worked in photography since the Civil War, was, with Nickolas Muray, the camera artist in the city with the richest training in photo chemistry and reproduction technology. His rise in the field had been swift, beginning as chief artistic photographer with the Dinturff Company in Syracuse, where his work caught the eye of Luther S. White, head of the most active Broadway production photography shop, White Studio. Monroe worked as White's chief camera man from 1915-1919 when he became known to every theatrical producer on the Great White Way.

In 1920, Monroe chose to become an independent artist, and instantly became a figure in demand. Ziegfeld regarded Monroe as a master of the beauty portrait, capable of community the power of personality in a still sitter. Monroe tended to fret over the developing process and so was not as timely in image production as other photographers, yet the toning on his finished prints was so superbly rich that Ziegfeld and other clients forgave him the slowness of his work.

Monroe remained a Broadway fixture until after the Stock Market crash of 1929. Then financial difficulties set in. He would reemerge as a force when he teamed with his old colleague at White Studio, George Lucas, to head Lucas-Monroe, one of the major production photography studios on Broadway from 1939 to his retirement in 1952. Monroe died in 1974 at age 83.  David S. Shields

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