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TOM PALUMBO (1921 – 2008)

Tom Palumbo was born in Molfetta, Italy.  His family moved to New York City during his childhood, and Palumbo’s first job as a young man was to build scale models for ships.  His photography career began when he accepted a job as an assistant to the portrait photographer James Abbe.  In 1949, Palumbo was able to present his own work to Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Steichen referred him to Alexei Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar, and Palumbo’s work would continue to appear in the magazine for the next eight years, after which he began photographing regularly for VOGUE.  During his career in fashion, the legendary model Anne St. Marie became Palumbo’s muse and later his wife and the mothers of his 2 children.

In 1962, Palumbo became vice president of creative productions at Ted Bates, where he oversaw all TV commercials.  Palumbo admitted that his ‘true passion” was the theater, and this new opportunity would eventually lead him to direct regional and off-Broadway plays written by Joyce Carol Oates, David Mamet, and Arthur Miller.  In the mid-1960s, Palumbo and Bert Stern were invited by Lee Strasberg to The Actor’s Studio in New York, becoming the only photographers in history to be invited to become studio members.

Palumbo died in 2008, and a retrospective book of his photographs titled Dreamer With A Thousand Thrills: The Rediscovered Photographs of Tom Palumbo was published in 2018.

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