Herbert Breuer was born in Vienna Neustadt, Austria, in March 1924. When Hitler came to power, his father was taken to a concentration camp but released; the man and his sons fled to the U.S. in 1940, when Herb was 16. In 1942 at age 18, Breuer joined the U.S. Army as an engineer/tool-and-die maker under Gen. Patton, landing in Normandy three days after D-Day. He fought until the end of WWII, then used the G.I. Bill to become a photographer.
Breuer worked in and around New York City in its heyday of the 1950s and '60s. According to his cousin Peter Greenstein of Lake Worth (full disclosure: That's my stepdad!), he shot screen and stage stars and covers of every major magazine, from Life to Look to Esquire. He photographed at least four presidents -- Eisenhower, Kennedy, Truman, and Johnson. Greenstein believes that Breuer was hired by the Democratic Party to cover Kennedy when he was campaigning for president in New York in 1960, and that's how a lot of the following photos were created. If you can identify other figures in the pictures, let us know. (Greenstein and niece Jessica Greenstein have file cabinets full of Breuer's negatives and prints and are looking for a graduate student who might be interested in archiving his photos and preparing a book as a graduate project, if you know anyone.)
Breuer, who never married nor had children, moved to Florida in 2006 with ailing health and now at age 89, resides in an assisted-living facility in Boynton Beach, where his short-term memory isn't so great, but he can still talk about 1961 because he seems to believe it still is 1961. Thus, he delights every woman he meets by declaring, "Oh my God, you're gorgeous. You should be a model! Can you come to my studio on Wednesday? Bring a bikini!" Now we know how he got all those great fashion spreads :)
Here, on the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, are some long-lost images. Cheers to Herbie!
John F. Kennedy and President Truman:
Kennedy and Truman, again:
A letter from Truman to Breuer:
Kennedy and assorted political figures:
Kennedy and group:
Crowd waving to the President as he campaigned:
Kennedy campaigning, possibly in Orange County, New York:
Kennedy campaigning with Lyndon B. Johnson:
Jackie Kennedy at a fundraising dinner:
Kennedy encounters a bride:
Greenstein says this is the legendary image of General Patton "pissing in the Rhine":
A letter referencing Breuer shooting Jayne Mansfield in Miami Beach:
Breuer in 2012 with his cousin's grandchildren:
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