In my never ending pursuit of fabulous photobooth photos, I come across many other types of vintage photos that take my fancy. Some time ago, while browsing online, I spotted a lot of photographs of a vaudeville actor and his partner that really fired my imagination. After having purchased one group of pictures, another lot was listed, which I also bought. The seller had apparently purchased over 400 photos from the subject’s estate which included valentine notes, snapshots and studio portraits. The two photobooth photos above were not included in either lot but were added as a gift from the seller. It was a complete and stunningly fortuitous surprise.
Pictured above is Horton Spurr, a man of many faces and numerous talents. Both of the pictures are dated Saturday, February 11th 1933, Berlin. I cannot imagine what being in Berlin at that point in history would have been like. Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January, only 12 days before this photo was taken. Enormous social and political changes were unfolding. It would have been extraordinary to have been there, but doubtless the full significance of that time would not have been immediately apparent.
In the 1920s, Horton was billed as “The World’s Worst Golfer”. His slapstick golf routine played the stage of major theatres throughout Europe and the United States. He appeared with the song and variety show Ziegfeld Follies as well as performing a live opening act for first-run movies featuring Abbott and Costello. Eddie Cantor became his best friend when they performed in “Kid Boots” on Broadway, and subsequently acted as best man at Horton’s wedding.
When Horton wasn’t on stage, he was in the eye of the movie camera. In Hollywood, Horton was Douglas Fairbanks Junior’s “double” in numerous movies in the 1920s. He also played supporting roles in many silent films.
Horton had a long and loving relationship with a beautiful dancer, Berenice Snyder. Her dancing career included running her own dance school, but apart from that, I have been unable to discover much about her. Horton and Berenice were together from the 1920s until his death in the 70s.
After his career in show business slowed, Horton joined the United States Merchant Marines. Some time ago I found, somewhere online, photos of him in his uniform, looking very smart, but try as I might I cannot find them again.
Much of this information came from a review of a small exhibition of Horton and Berenice’s memorabilia which was written by Pat Brodowski in 1994. From the description of the items that were on display I think that the niece, who was so proud of her deceased aunt and uncle, must herself have passed away, as many of them are now in my possession and in other collections around the world.
To see the other vintage photos I have of Horton and Berenice click here or on the links, above. They are worth a look!