HAL PHYFE was born Harold Rodney Eaton Phyfe in Nice France (1892-1968); the great grandson of Duncan Phyfe, the famous furniture designer. Hal trained as a sculptor in
After the war he supported himself as an illustrator for magazines but did not open his photography studio at the corner of 72nd & Madison NY until 1926. He had built a reputation for portraitures. Primarily a photographer, he was also noted for using, oil, pastels and colored pencils; many of his images found their way to the covers of movie and theatrical magazines.
His style is distinctive, in my collection there are examples of the use of a particular color at different periods. He signed original prints in red crayon in unique squared letters. The
His dynamic male portraits of the late 1920s were highly desired. Hal was a real master of middle grays, displaying exquisitely refined shading and a strong graphic elements at the perimeters of the image, suggesting a drawing, his training as a sculptor is evident. His portraitures were understated, suggesting refinement rather than ostentation; his popularity among
He became famous for his dictum that no smiles were allowed during sittings. Phyfe's notorious eccentricity extended to wearing moccasins instead of shoes and dressing down in denim at debutante balls. A life-long bachelor, he was said to be one of the best cooks in
In 1931 he moved to
In the Glamour Girl contest held at the Colony Club in
In a letter from James Montgomery, the incident was not just the way TIME article seems to relate it. Flagg wrote an illustrated note which shows he didn’t agree with TIME's interpretation of the events that night. Perhaps Hal was friends with Cobina Wright Sr. but Cobina Wright Jr went on to be an actress.