Murray Korman Photography of Mary Small – Living Large

Murray Korman was kind of like the Anna-Lou Leibovitz of the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s.  I’ve posted a great article about him published at

Murray Korman was a man short in stature but large in personality.  He was bold and confident.  A gifted photographer, Korman captured the glamour and beauty of several generations of debutantes, performers and celebrities in hustling, bustling New York City during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. 

Showing early artistic ability in grammar school, Korman was a student of NYC’s famed, Cooper Union School of Art as a teen.  Before graduating, he dropped out to work as a Kewpie Doll Artist.  Eventually, tiring of Kewpie doll painting, Murray created drawings of nightclub performers.  In order to do the drawings, he took photographs first.  After a short time, it became evident the photographs were more sought after, and were less time and  effort, than the drawings.  This discovery would catapult him into a wildly successful, three decade long, career as a NYC photographer to the stars.

Korman, a flamboyant showman by nature, knew how to use the media to his advantage. Newspaper interviews and articles helped promote his photography studios in New York.  Everyone wanted Korman to be their photographer.  He became the authority on “beauty” at the time and was even called into court to testify as an “expert witness.”

Estimates indicated Korman took nearly 475,000 photographs /n egatives during his career.  Most of this massive collection was lost somewhere between his rising success in the 1930s and his death in 1961.  There are only a few of his photographs listed with The Library of Congress and a few others listed in private collections on the World Wide Web. 

Korman was a person who loved being in the limelight and presence of beautiful women his entire life.  Except for a late life marriage at the age of 59, which culminated in a divorce three years later, his personal life indicated he lived his life as a bachelor.  Before there was an expression “live large,” he did.

Sadly, according to his obituary despite his very long and successful career, Murray Korman died of a heart attack, penniless, in 1961.  And, still the question remains, what became of all his photographs and negatives?  Sadly, it will likely remain an unsolved mystery lost to time and place.

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