This portrait of Jeanne Eagels, taken by James Abbe in 1919, was chosen for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Kendra Bean (author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait) talks about her work at the Abbe Archive – and shares some restored photos – in a new blog post, ‘James Abbe: Capturing the Silent Screen.’
Abbe is also featured in David S. Shields’ recent book, Still: American Silent Motion Photography. On his Broadway Photographs website, Shields introduces an autobiographical essay by Abbe, first published in the Oakland Tribune from 1961-62.
Down in Philadelphia the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal got wind of my success and perhaps remembering the brief contact I had with them that day I stopped en route to New York, asked me to submit some of my photographs to them. I did.
One of those I submitted was of actress Jeanne Eagels, and became a Post cover. For that picture I received $75. It was the first time the Post had used a photograph on its cover.
Months afterward, a poet called upon me in my New York studio with some of the prints I had sold the Post and the Journal. He had been assigned to write verses around them I had never heard of him previously, but got to know him later. His name was Christopher Morley.