This past year, we’ve told you the continuing story of a magical 1960s photo album compiled by South Philadelphia nightlife writer and photographer Arthur Tavani.
And we’ve shared dozens of Art’s celebrity photos on our Unexpected Philadelphia website.
BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME
Today, we’re publishing a new set of images showing mid-century business owners and government officials from right here in the neighborhood – and we need your help identifying everyone.
Art Tavani shakes hands with local photographer Carl Verna. Mildred Trombetta was the editor and publisher of the South Philadelphia American newspaper, for which Art was a columnist. Louis Esposito (right) still reigns as a second-generation owner of Esposito’s Meats in the Italian Market.
(Continued from Thursday, May 26. Click here to see Part 1, or here to see Part 2….)
It was 1964, and still-shy Linda Ferrino (now Linda Hoffman) had just been appointed Bobby Rydell’s National Fan Club President.
(Linda Ferrino Hoffman and Bobby Rydell in 2014)
So when Bobby was invited to appear on the nationally syndicated Mike Douglas Show, she did what any responsible chief executive would do: She had her mom call school and say she’d be out sick that day.
You can’t make this stuff up….
Last June, we told you about a magical, 12-pound photo album that a friend gave us as a housewarming gift when we moved to East Passyunk Avenue.
Inside were over 200 photos of local and national celebrities, politicians and “just plain folks” from the mid-1960s, collected by South Philadelphia columnist and photographer Arthur Tavani.
(Art Tavani’s magical photo album. Click here to see a sample of what it contains.)
WOW – CHECK THIS OUT….
Among the instantly recognizable faces, of course, were three photos of South Philadelphia heart-throb Bobby Rydell…
(Singer Bobby Rydell with Art Tavani, left, and Philadelphia-based TV host Mike Douglas, center, around 1964.)
(Continued from Monday, March 14. Click here to see Part 1…)
When word got around that South Philadelphia nightclub musician John Valente, Sr. had a local barbershop, visiting stars began dropping in.
(John the Barber, Jr. reflected in a shop mirror below photos of his –
and his dad’s – famous customers.)
Soon John, Sr. and John, Jr. (who joined his dad full-time after graduating from St. John Newmann High School in 1959) began cutting the hair of South Philadelphia celebrities like singers Bobby Rydell and Al Martino; comedians Guy Marks, Al Fisher and Lou Marks….
When I first shared Arthur Tavani’s fabulous mid-1960s photo album, there were local faces that every South Philadelphian recognized: Singers Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Al Martino; boxer Joey Giardello; comedian Guy Marks.
“So who’s the guy in the white coat standing next to your brother and Jerry Vale? A doctor? A dentist?” I asked Virginia Tavani Romano, Art’s sister.
“That’s John the Barber!” she immediately replied.
(From left: South Philadelphia nightlife writer Art Tavani, singer Jerry Vale, John the
Barber, and Phillies relief pitcher Jack Baldschun in John’s shop around 1964.)
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.
(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.)
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.
(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
(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…..
(Hey, even middle-aged girls just wanna have fun…)
(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….
(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
Kate continues the story…. (Click here for Part 1.)
It was January, 2013. Our 8,001 moving boxes had been emptied and recycled, and our new walls were painted — sometimes three or four different times. And, yes, we could have easily opened a used-paint store from our kitchen colors alone….
Finally, there was no use delaying it: It was time to open the 1960s mystery photo album.