Sanford Roth

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Sanford Roth

Sanford Roth Typed Letter Signed Discussing Picasso - 1952

A fantastic and extremely rare typed letter signed by Sanford Roth, one of Hollywood’s most respected glamor photographers during its Golden Age. This is an effusive, richly detailed letter to his friends, James and Barbara Byrnes, from the Hotel Crillon in Madrid, dated June 12, 1952. Roth’s signature—indeed, anything written or signed by him—is one of the more elusive collectibles, since very little of his material has ever come to market.

Roth discusses his new friendship with Pablo Picasso, how Picasso wants to buy several of his photographs with plans to contribute the frontispiece for Roth’s new book; plans for showings throughout Europe; a new photographic series on bullfighting with the matador Pepe Dominguin (whose father, the great Domingo, was chronicled in Ernest Hemingway’s book The Dangerous Summer).

Sanford Roth and his wife Beulah, both extensive world travelers, met, entertained, photographed, and became friends with the who’s who of post World War II Europe and Hollywood-photographic subjects including Albert Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock, James Dean (who became a personal friend), Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Audrey Hepburn, Aldous Huxley, Noël Coward, Jimmy Stewart, Christopher Isherwood, Louis Armstrong, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, John Wayne, Jean Cocteau, Peter Ustinov, Tennessee Williams, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, and many others.

Roth first met James Dean on the set of Giant and immediately became friends. Dean often visited their home and treated the Roths as adoptive parents. Poignantly, Sanford Roth was in James Dean’s Ford station wagon driving behind Dean’s new Porsche Spyder on the way to the Salinas Road Races on September 30, 1955, when Dean was killed in a late afternoon traffic accident. Roth took the now famous post-accident photographs.

James B. Byrnes was the first curator of modern and contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1946-1952), and his wife Barbara owned the American Contemporary Gallery on Hollywood Boulevard.