The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 9): The Stars Shine on Philly

Over the past 9 months,  we’ve introduced you to a magical 1960s photo album….and told you some of the stories behind it.

Back around 1964,  South Philadelphia nightlife columnist and photographer Arthur Tavani collected over 200 photos of himself with nationally and locally famous singers,  comedians,  athletes,  politicians,  judges,  business people and more.

16_02_28 1 Art Tavani Album(Art Tavani greets South Philadelphia’s Al Martino,  bottom right.  Not all the stars
were locally grown:  That’s Art with Tony Bennett,  top,  and Bob Hope,  bottom left.)

Many of the best-known entertainers – ranging from Bobby Rydell and Fabian,  to Al Martino and Guy Marks – were South Philly natives.  Today,  we’ll show you Art’s photos with famous out-of-towners… Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 8): Lou Marks

It was the last weekend of November,  2014,  and we were celebrating our new holiday display:  26 lighted photos of South Philadelphia celebrities  –  drawn from our star-packed 1960s photo album  –  looked down from our windows onto E. Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street.

15_11_16 1 Celebrity Windows(And, yes, everyone from Bobby Rydell and Fabian, to Al Martino and
Joey Giardello,  will be back in our windows in January, 2016.)

Feeling festive,  we headed out to Stogie Joe’s Tavern for a square pie with sausage and broccoli rabe.

It was the perfect choice:  Stogie Joe’s Passyunk Avenue building once housed the gym where boxer Joey Giardello trained,  and Joey was among our window celebrities.

But,  like everything related to Art Tavani’s magical South Philadelphia photo album,  the coincidences didn’t end there….

“NICE  LOOKING  MUSSELS!”

Soon we were comparing appetizers with the people at the next table.

“Be sure to check out our holiday windows on your way home,”  we told them.  “We’ve got everyone from Bobby Rydell to Fisher and Marks up there!”

15_11_16 2 Fisher & Marks(Singer and dancer Al Fisher,  left,  was the semi-straight man to comedian and jitterbug champ Lou Marks)

“Fisher and Marks?”  one of the men asked.  “I’m friends with Lou’s son!”  Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 7)

When a friend gave us a fabulous photo album crammed with Philadelphia area nightlife photos from the 1960s,  we had no idea how to identify the hundreds of celebrities, politicians and “just plain folks” in its pages.

But that’s before we learned that  –  while the rest of the world operates on six degrees of separation  –  Philadelphians know just about everyone in this city of neighborhoods.

“HE’S  A  BUM….HE’S  FROM  BROOKLYN!”

Early on,  we took our album slide show to the South Philadelphia Older Adults Center and the Charles Santore Library,  both on Passyunk Avenue and both filled with longtime residents.   (And many thanks to Older Adults program director Deborah Hoffer and librarian Jeanne Hamman for setting up those shows.)

Audience members identified everything from South Philly’s Venus Lounge to middleweight world boxing champion Joey Giardello,  whose life-sized statue stands on Passyunk Avenue.

15_11_04 1 Giardello Carter(Joey Giardello,  left,  and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter before their legendary 1964 bout.  That’s Arthur Tavani,  the original owner of the photo album,  at center.)

Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 6): Carmen Dee

One of the perks of researching our fun and fabulous 1960s South Philly photo album has been meeting the families, friends and fans of the many entertainers, athletes and other public figures it contains  –  and,  a half-century later,  meeting some of those same celebrities ourselves.

FINDING  CARMEN  DEE

Last year,  we were charmed to meet Carmen Dee,  the celebrated bandleader at South Philadelphia’s famed Palumbo’s restaurant and nightclub for over 30 years.

15_10_25 1 Palumbo's Postcard(A Palumbo’s postcard from the late 1930s.  Palumbo’s opened in 1884 as a hotel
for Italian immigrants,  and morphed into a top entertainment and wedding venue.
And, yes, that should actually read “Catharine” Street.)
Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 5)

If you’ve followed our blog and website, you know that a friend gave us a fabulous housewarming gift:  a 12-pound photo album from the 1960s, packed with images from nightspots in and around South Philadelphia.

You also know that we’ve been on a grand hunt to identify the hundreds of entertainers,  sports figures,  business people,  politicians and  “just plain folks” cavorting on its pages, with the goal of donating them to Temple University’s Urban Archives for safe-keeping.

15_09_18 1 Jimmy Durante(South Philly nightclub favorite Jimmy Durante, left, with Arthur Tavani, the nightlife
columnist and photographer who assembled the photo album in the 1960s)

Now we’d like to get  you  involved in the hunt… Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 4)

(Kate resumes the story….)

It was March, 2014 as I nervously approached Virginia Tavani Romano’s front door with a laptop full of photos in one hand and a potted plant in the other.  For months, I’d been poring over Art Tavani’s magical 1960s photo album, trying to unlock its mysteries. Now, only four blocks from home, I was about to meet his sister and her nieces Suzanne, Clair and Elaine.

“Let’s hope they have a sense of humor,” I fretted, yanking at my newly dyed violet and teal hair…..

15_7_13 1 Kate Hair_0652

(Hey, even middle-aged girls just wanna have fun…)

Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 3)

(Back from vacation, Kate continues the story….)

Discovering that the mystery owner of our star-studded 1960s photo album was named Arthur Tavani and that he once worked for two South Philadelphia newspapers was pretty exciting….

15_7_8 1 Bennett(Art Tavani,  with his trusty camera,  joins the crush around singer Tony Bennett.
And,  yes,  the patterned carpet identifies this as Palumbo’s.)

Discovering that Art’s sister Virginia lived just 4 blocks from our house was….well, disconcerting. Continue reading