Philippe Halsman born May 2 in Riga, Latvia, the son of Max Halsman, a dentist, and Ita Grintuch, principal of a grammar school.


Birth of sister, Liouba


Discovers his father’s old view camera and begins photographing family and friends. PH experiences his first “miracle” as he develops the glass plates in the bathroom sink.


Graduates high school (Vacu Vidus Skola, Riga, Latvia) first in his class, having studied Latin, French, German, and Russian. Enrolls at Technische Hochschule in Dresden, Germany, to study electrical engineering.


In 1928, Philippe Halsman, then a 22-year-old engineering student, traveled with his family to the Tyrolean Alps near Innsbruck, Austria.  This tourist spot had become a center of the Heimwehr movement, a thinly disguised network for Fascist activity.That September, Philippe and his family came into tragic conflict with its overt anti-Semitism and growing power.  While father and son were hiking, Max Halsman lingered behind.  As Philippe ran ahead to hold the little funicular train down the mountain, Max fell, was robbed and killed.  A rash of unsolved crimes in the area and its rife anti-Semitism further empowered local officials, who, without a shred of evidence or motive, quickly accused, tried and convicted Philippe Halsman of his beloved father’s death.

Philippe served 2 years in prison, while his sister Liouba drew international attention to his case.   Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud and many other important intellectuals and scientists endorsed his innocence.  In the autumn of 1930, Liouba brokered an agreement between Paul Painleve’, the Prime Minister of France, and Johann Schober, the Chancellor of Austria, and finally won Philippe’s release.  After a long convalescence from the tuberculosis he had contracted in prison, he rejoined his mother, his sister and her new husband, Rene’ Golschmann, in Paris.


Continues his studies at Universite de Paris (Faculte des Sciences)


Continues to live and work in Paris as a photographer. His work appears in Vogue, VU, and Voila, and he opens a portrait studio and darkroom at 22 Rue Delambre in Montparnasse. Makes portraits of Andre Malraux, Paul Valery, Jean Painleve, Marc Chagall, Andre Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Le Corbusier.


Maria Eisner, founder of Alliance Photo (who later helps organize Magnum Photos), introduces PH to twenty-two year old Yvonne Moser, a young photographer who goes to work as his apprentice.


Designs a 9 x 12 cm twin-lens reflex camera and has it built by a cabinetmaker whose grandfather (Alphonse Giroux) built the first camera for Daguerre.

First major exhibit: Galerie de la Pleiade, 73 Boulevard Saint-Michel.

PH’s work is included in an exhibit entitled “Photographie Contemporaine” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.


Marries Yvonne Moser, now an established children’s photographer and on the staff at Votre Bonheur, a small weekly. They move into a larger studio at 350 Rue St, Honore.


Birth of first daughter, Irene, in Paris

Collaborates with Jean Painleve on the play, Le Jeu du Surhomme.”


May: Yvonne and infant Irene, along with Philippe’s mother, Ita, his sister, Liouba, and her two young daughters, leave Bordeaux for the United States on a freighter just before the fall of France.

November: PH, who holds a Latvian passport, finally obtains an emergency visa to the United States through the intervention of Albert Einstein. With the help of the Emergency Rescue Committee, he arrives in New York City on a refugee ship from Lisbon, carrying with him one suitcase with his camera and a dozen prints.


Birth of second daughter, Jane, in New York

Meets Salvador Dali; their thirty-seven year collaboration begins.


Accepts fashion and magazine assignments from Black Star agency in New York.

“Victory Red” campaign for Elizabeth Arden


First LIFE cover (10/5/42)

Yvonne continues what has become her life’s work alongside Philippe as a photographic and darkroom assistant.


Moves to an artists’ studio building on West Sixty-Seventh Street in Manhattan, where he lives and works for the rest of his life.

Liouba becomes the studio’s full-time office-manager; she continues in this role until 1973, when she and Rene retire to the Virginia countryside.


Travels to California and photographs his first Hollywood assignments for LIFE, including Bogart, Bacall, Sinatra, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Judy Garland.

Produces seven LIFE covers this year, including a major story on American fashion designers.


Elected the first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP).

Azzielean Roberts, a young woman from Texas, joins the studio as housekeeper and permanent Girl Friday.


Extensive photographic coverage of Martha Graham and her dance company in performance


Photographs Albert Einstein in Princeton.

Designs an improved version of his twin-lens reflex camera in 4×5 format. Three prototypes, known as the Halsman-Fairchild, are manufactured. PH continues to use this camera for portraits throughout his career.

Medea, directed by John Gielgud, is the first of thirty-seven Broadway plays and musicals PH is assigned to photograph for LIFE over the next twenty-two years.


Becomes a U.S. citizen.

Makes the photograph “Dali Atomicus.”

Travels throughout the Southwest on multiple assignments. Photographs Georgia O’Keeffe in Abiquiu.


Publishes The Frenchman (Simon & Schuster), a book of photographs of Fernandel, the French film star. It becomes a New York Times bestseller.

Attends Einstein’s seventieth birthday celebration; photographs Einstein with refugee children.


Death of Ita, PH’s mother, who had been living nearby with Liouba and her family.


Fiftieth LIFE cover: Gina Lollobrigida (9/3/51)

Returns to Europe for the first time; Photographs Chagall, Churchill, Matisse, Sartre, Bardot, Magnani, and others.

David Seymour (“Chim”), one of the founders of Magnum, asks PH to become a contributing member of the legendary photo agency. PH agrees to let Magnum distribute his work in Europe.


Marilyn Monroe LIFE cover (4/7/52)


Publishes “Piccoli, A Fairy Tale” (Simon & Schuster), written for his daughters. LIFE runs an excerpt in its 12/7/53 issue.

Portrait of Winston Churchill appears on the cover of LIFE (11/2/53) as well as on the jacket of Churchill’s war memoirs.


Publishes “Dali’s Mustache” (Simon & Schuster): 30 surreal images of his artist friend.


Seventy-fifth LIFE cover: Audrey Hepburn (7/18/55)


Sent around the world by LIFE to select and photograph the most beautiful women in seventeen countries.


Chosen one of the “World’s Ten Greatest Photographers” in an international poll conducted by Popular Photography magazine.


Photographs leading writers, philosophers, and scientists who contribute articles for the long-running series “Adventures of the Mind” for Saturday Evening Post.


Publishes “Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book” (Simon & Schuster). More than 200 illustrious subjects from the period 1950-59 jump for him. In a cover story, LIFE devotes eight pages to the book (11/9/59).

Appears on the CBS-TV program Person to Person. Interview takes place at the Halsman studio and apartment on West Sixty-seventh Street.


Sent to Russia by LIFE to photograph Russia’s leading artists, writers, dancers, and politicians.

Collaborates with Salvador Dali on “Chaos & Creation”, the first performance art piece shot on video.


Publishes “Philippe Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas” (Ziff-Davis).

Photographs “New Frontier” story for LOOK: President John F. Kennedy and his entourage.


Joins with Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Alfred Eisenstaedt, and six others to form the Famous Photographers School.

Documents historic weeklong interview between Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut in Los Angeles, later published as “Hitchcock/Truffaut”.


Major exhibit at Smithsonian Photography Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Receives the Newhouse Citation for journalistic achievement from Syracuse University School of Journalism.


First of two extended photographic visits with Vladimir Nabokov in Montreux, Switzerland.

Photograph of Albert Einstein used on United States postage stamp.


Marriage of daughter Jane to Steve Bello


Makes official portrait of president Richard M. Nixon


One hundredth LIFE cover: Johnny Carson (1/23/70). With a total of 101, PH has more LIFE covers to his credit than any other photographer.


Begins teaching “Psychological Portraiture” course at The New School, New York City. The class is held at West Sixty-seventh Street. PH continues to teach this course for the next five years.


Publishes Sight and Insight (Doubleday).

Birth of granddaughter Jennifer Sunshine Bello

LIFE ceases weekly publication after thirty-six years.


Tokyo exhibit “Sight and Insight” organized and traveled throughout Japan by Orion Press.


Photographs Alfered Hitchcock in Los Angeles: cover story for special issue of French Vogue.


Recipient of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP) Life Achievement in Photography Award.

Birth of granddaughter Sophie Claire Bello

Birth of grandson Oliver Halsman Rosenberg to Irene Halsman Rosenberg


Health begins to decline. PH sells his collection to collector George Rinhart. (Halsman family reacquires the collection from Rinhart in 1987.)


Makes the last portrait of his old friend Salvador Dali.

Death of sister, Liouba


At the invitation of Cornell Capa, founder of the International Center of Photography in New York, PH and Cornell curate and mount a comprehensive exhibition of his work, which then travels through out the United States for the next eight years.

Philippe Halsman dies on June 25 in New York City.

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