James Abbe (1883-1973) was primarily a photographer. Born in Alfred, Maine, he travelled through Europe recording the unrest of the early twentieth century. This included images of the Spanish Civil War and the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Abbe referred to himself as the “tramp photographer.”
Abbe remembers being turned down by many of the magazines who would later publish his works. He started in New York selling “revealing photos of college girls” for five dollars. But as they were published, he made a name for himself.
By his 40s he was photographing movie stars in New York, Paris, and London. His technique of photographing actors in full costume, on set, rather than a photographer’s studio, brought him much renown.
One of his photos became a Saturday Evening Post cover on August 18, 1919. This photo of actress Jeanne Eagels was the first time the Post had put a photo on its cover. Abbe made $75.