Thursday, March 07, 2013

Mailbag: A 1953 Joe Black Sport Magazine Premium

You can chase after the typical 1950's era Topps card if you want.  Personally, I prefer the oddball stuff.

On eBay, I recently saw a 1953 Sport Magazine All-Star Portfolio color photo premium of Joe Black and immediately placed a bid.  Heck, at an opening bid of $9.99 I figured I couldn't go wrong, and if I won it at that price I knew I'd be dancing in the streets.  Well, now I'm dancing.

These photos were a subscription premium give-away and measure 5 3/8" x 7".  Furthermore, they feature the photographs of legendary photographer Ozzie Sweet, who passed away about 2 weeks ago at the age of 94. 

from the NY Times obituary:
At the end of World War II, Ozzie Sweet’s picture of a friend posed as a German soldier surrendering appeared on the cover of Newsweek — “the magazine of news significance,” as it billed itself then. Not a stratagem that would pass muster in contemporary journalism, but Mr. Sweet, who had apprenticed to the Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, appeared in a Cecil B. DeMille film and helped create promotional ads for the United States Army, found the art in photography to be in creating an image, not capturing one.

He considered himself not a news photographer but a photographic illustrator, and like the work of the painter Norman Rockwell, whom he claimed as an influence, his signature images from the 1940s through the 1950s and into the 1960s, many in the fierce hues of increasingly popular color film that emulated the emergent Technicolor palette of American movies, helped define — visually, anyway — an era.
In the below photo, Sweet can be seen working with Jackie Robinson during a photo shoot.
But Mr. Sweet became most closely associated with Sport, a monthly magazine that predated Sports Illustrated and after 1947 featured dozens, if not hundreds, of his portraits on its cover. Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Maurice Richard, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle were all his subjects. 

Sometimes, he positioned them trading-card style, in poses suggestive of action, as with Jackie Robinson seemingly in midslide; sometimes, he contrived an imaginative image, as he did with Roger Maris, with a half-dozen bats flying in the air around him. (To make the picture Mr. Sweet suspended the bats in midair with fishing line.) Still others were immediate, intimate close-ups.
(Ozzie Sweet directing Jackie Robinson during a shoot for the October 1951 cover of Sport Magazine. Ozzie Sweet Archives)

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