Just a couple of months after Bela Lugosi's premiere stage performance of DRACULA in October, 1927, theatrical photographer Florence Vandamme shot this image for the December issue of VANITY FAIR. Just barely 45 years old on October 20, Lugosi is in his prime and ready to take on the world.
London-born Florence Vandamme (1883 - 1966) was a noted photographer, who, along with her husband Tommy, contributed many exquisite photographs for the Theatre Guild. She is often spoken of as the "photographer of record for Broadway".
|Cover of the December, 1927 VANITY FAIR|
Following is a description of the Florence and Tommy Vandamme photograph collection at the New York Public Library (NYPL). It includes some biographical information.
"The Vandamm archive documents almost comprehensively three decades of theatrical history in New York. Florence and Tommy Vandamm, married in 1918, moved to New York from London in the 1920s when their portrait studio business declined after the war. They began to establish dominance in the field in 1928 when they undertook a contract with the Theatre Guild to photograph all of their productions. Tommy concentrated on documenting the stage work while Florence took responsibility for the portraits. Hallmarks of the Vandamms' collective work are the beautiful compositions they achieved and the flattering images they created. Their accomplishment came with enormous labor and attention to detail. A painter's eye is apparent and spontaneity is absent in their stage shots and portraits alike, which they carefully planned, composed, and lit. The Billy Rose Theatre Collection purchased the archive of negatives and prints in 1961 when Florence closed the studio."
BONUS: Below are examples from the program of the New York Fulton Theater where DRACULA premiered. It is currently being offered on eBay for $229 USD.