Saturday, July 28, 2012

WHO IS IT?.......COULD IT BE.....?

This photograph was among a small collection of mixed old snapshots, cabinet cards and other photos my husband bought on a recent antique store trawl. There's a bigger version of it available on his Flickr page, together with a long string of comments from viewers, all surmising whether the woman might possibly be.......guess who? Lady Day: Billie Holiday? Husband researched the approximate date of the photograph using style of beer bottle labels shown in the photo, and puts it at around 1951.

As I commented at Flickr I'm not 100% convinced, it'd seem too good to be true that such a photograph would be lying around in a pile of old pics in an antique store in Clinton, Oklahoma, a town of less than 10,000 population on what was once the famous Route 66. Someone had thought it a photograph worth shooting though, either because the subject(s) was/were somebody well-known, or somebody who looked like somebody well-known, or because somebody who looked like somebody well-known was with somebody famous or......

The collection of photographs, possibly purchased by the store owner or or owner of a booth in the store, at an estate sale might have originally belonged to someone in the newspaper business, I guess, or it could simply have been a souvenir of a jazz fan. Anyway, the pic has initiated much Google-driven research.

Husband also has the photograph and some further detail up on his Lost Gallery pages, as well as in yesterday's post at his Thinks Happen blog, post titled A Familiar Face - or not?
There are dozens of photographs of Billie online, mostly studio or publicity poses though. Two examples:

As pointed out in Flickr comments: To further complicate things, not all Billie Holiday photographs look like Billie Holiday. Comparing album covers and promo shots, one might think that there were several people with that name.
Another "clue"....there's a photograph of Billie's fur stole, similar to the one in the photograph, preserved for posterity HERE.

An old post of mine touching on Billie Holiday's natal chart, for any passing reader interested is at
Magical Bonds: Billie Holiday ~ Lester Young

The mystery photograph will remain a mystery for all time, I guess, unless someone at some point sees it here, or more likely on Flickr, and recognises something about it that is decisive one way or another; it's unlikely to be the only shot taken at the time, maybe it was one of a set, or the best of a set. There could be others, similar, around somewhere with, perhaps, detail of who, when, where.

More views of the lady herself are shown in this video as she sings: One For My Baby (& one more for the road)"


Wisewebwoman said...

I look at ears when evaluating unindentifiables such as this, T. The ears have it.
It surely is Billie?

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ You see the ears as being similar to Billie's; someone at Flickr thought her nose is "right"; her stole is similar to that which belonged to ber, and now in a museum; her long white gloves (thrown over her purse in the pic) are like those she wears in an online photograph......lots of clues but nothing absolutely decisive.

Maybe in time we'll find out more.
One of these days a passing reader browsing at one of the locations it's shown might suddenly recognise it as being.......or someone else. :-)

Anonymous said...

Cool! My favorite singer!

I was hoping that was Lester Young with her, but I don't think the eyes are right for him.

James Higham said...

I'm not 100% convinced, it'd seem too good to be true that such a photograph would be lying around in a pile of old pics in an antique store in Clinton, Oklahoma, a town of less than 10,000 population

Yes, but that's how treasures are often unearthed, Twilight.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Yes, pity he had the glass hiding his features, his identity could have been a big clue as to whether it is or isn't Billie. I've wondered if that was intentional on his part, or just accidental, and perhaps the reason this particular photograph (perhaps one of a set) was cast aside and landed in our hands. :-)

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ Well yes, there's that too.

Antiques Roadshow often has someone telling that they discovered what turns out to be a valuable painting in a garbage bin. :-)

anyjazz said...

The story of the photograph will turn up eventually. Why would a photographer make an 8x10 print of a candid shot of a no-name person in a bar? She either was or looked like a celebrity.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~
Yes, someone who knows will see it, one day. Good job finding it anyway! :-)

Anonymous said...

I can say, unequivocally, that the woman in the photo is not Billie Holiday. Though she had many faces throughout her career, Billie's facial structure, eyes, and smile always stand out. There's a uniqueness about her that's unmistakeable.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Thanks for adding your opinion here. :-)

We were doubtful - the reason for posting the photo, and remain doubtful.

If, indeed, this is not Lady Day perhaps it was the male in the photo who was of interest - sporting celebrity perhaps.