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When He Said "Jump..."

Philippe Halsman defied gravitas.

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It may seem like a stretch to go from seeing funnymen jumping for joy to persuading, say, a Republican Quaker vice president to take the leap, but Halsman was always on a mission. ("One of our deepest urges is to find out what the other person is like," he wrote.) And like the true photojournalist he was, Halsman saw a jumpological truth in his near-perfect composition of Martin and Lewis.

In the book, Martin and Lewis appear on a right-hand page, juxtaposed with other famous pairs on the left: songwriters Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, and publishers Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. "Each of the four men on the left jumps in a way which is diametrically opposed to the jump of his partner," Halsman wrote. "Their partnerships were lasting and astonishingly successful. The two partners on the right, whose jumps are almost identical, broke up after a few years."

Owen Edwards is a former critic for American Photographer magazine.

About Owen Edwards
Owen Edwards

Owen Edwards is a freelance writer who previously wrote the "Object at Hand" column in Smithsonian magazine.

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