Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Graphic House

Stamped on the back of these photos, "PHOTO BY GRAPHIC HOUSE 280 MADISON AVENUE NEW YORK, N.Y. TEL. MUarry Hill 6-8826 THIS PICTURE IS SOLD TO YOU FOR ONE TIME REPRODUCTION IN YOUR PUBLICATION ONLY AND MUST NOT BE LOANED, SYNDICATED OR USED FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM US." In addition, on the back of the picture of the woman on the beach, "PLEASE CREDIT IRV. CARSTEN GRAPHIC HOUSE" On the back of the other, 'PLEASE CREDIT DAN SCHLANGER GRAPHIC HOUSE" I thought it would be easy to run down information on Graphic House, but as it turned out, I wasn't able to find anything at all. It's obvious that Graphic House must have been a photo agency, a clearing house for the sale of photographs for advertising and illustration. Magnum, the French based co-op for photo journalists is the most famous photo agency, and, of course, that's how modern day paparazzo sell their work. As far as the two photographers listed. I found a maybe for Dan Schlanger, an obit for a former employee of the social security agency, died in Baltimore, born in Queens, New York, former member of The Iris Society (Flowers or lenses?). Also listed as a photographer and film buff. It's pretty thin, but the name, city, and an interest in photography...well for what it's worth, and it's not much. Irv Carsten is a different story. I found records of him with other photos credited to Graphic House. It seems that Carsten was a fairly successful pin-up photographer. On a web sight dedicated to pin-up/nude model, and actress June Palmer, Carsten is quoted on how easy it was to work with June Palmer.


  1. As someone that worked at Graphic House during a semester break of college 40 years ago, I do know a little about the business. It indeed was a clearinghouse for photographer's works. Eileen Darby, married to Roy Lester, was known for her photos of Broadway stars and productions. Graphic House had her and many other photographers in their collection. Graphic House was in its prime during the heyday of the photo magazines - Life, Look, etc. By the time I had started work for Graphic House in 1972, their business was primarily acting as agents for West Coast nudie photographers with publishing customers in New York such as "Man to Man" Nuggent" and "Screw" magazines. Below is the obit for Eileen Darby Lester:

    Eileen Darby Lester, 87; Prolific Photographer of Broadway's Stars

    April 21, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

    Eileen Darby Lester, 87, who as Eileen Darby photographed about 500 Broadway productions and its stars, from Sir Laurence Olivier to Marlene Dietrich and Marlon Brando, died March 30 in a Long Beach, N.Y., nursing home.

    She had been in declining health since falling at her Point Lookout, N.Y., home in November.

    One of Darby's most memorable photos was of actress Jessica Tandy cringing as a terrified Blanche Du Bois to Brando's menacing Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire."

    The photographer's roster of actors included Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Gregory Peck, Katharine Hepburn and Paul Robeson.

    Born in Portland, Ore., Darby studied biology at Marlhurst University in Oregon, but dropped out to become a photographer in Manhattan.

    She started working for the photo agency Pix and in 1941 helped establish a new agency, Graphic House, where she was a photographer for three decades.

    Unfortunately, I never got a chance to meet Eileen Darby and after the few months that I worked there I lost touch with the business and never learned when it went out of business or what happened to its vast collection of photos and negatives.
    - Rick McMahan

    1. My father Leonard Coleman worked as Eileen Darby's assistant for many years in the mid to late 1940's and worked on many of the Broadway Playbills described above. We have a terrific photo of him with Ms. Darby on set. He also was sent to Korea where he created a photographic essay of the children of Korea "Between The Wars", which was a period after World war II and prior to the Korean War.