The Rolland J. Curtis Photo Archive at the Los Angeles Public Library Central Branch


Billy Mills

The Ebony Showcase Theater

One of the most successful and time consuming bits of research I’ve done on this project was on an African American theater company called the Ebony Showcase Theater. Nick and Edna Stewart began the Ebony Showcase Theater in 1950. Nick had spent his career playing stereotypical African American roles: a waiter, a porter, an elevator boy, and even a janitor, when the radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy moved to television on CBS. With a background in vaudeville, Nick Stewart found himself cast as the dim-witted, shuffling, ironically named Lightnin’, in a TV show about blacks, but had been voiced for years on the radio by white actors.

(Left to Right) Edna Stewart, Jayne Meadows, Steve Allen and Nick Stewart chat after the Stewarts received a resolution for their work at the Ebony Showcase Theater.

Understanding the need for African American actors to find a creative output, and meaningful roles, Stewart recalled: “I was Lightnin’ by day, but I put on serious black theater by night…for positive portrayals of African Americans and longevity in the theater.” Stewart also used salvaged lumber from the CBS television construction site to remodel the first theater. The Ebony Showcase Theater was the first African American owned and operated theater for African Americans in Los Angeles.

It was shut down in 1996 and razed to build the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center known as the Ebony Repertoire Theater, a move that angered the Stewarts who had lost the theater years before due to costly building seismic code requirements and the use of eminent domain by the Community Redevelopment Agency. The family had spent years trying to raise the money to save the theater from foreclosure, losing 2 homes in the process. The situation was exacerbated by the plan to call the new performing arts center the Ebony Showcase Theater, a move blocked by the Stewarts. Nick Stewart himself arrived in a wheelchair to protest the groundbreaking of the new theater by holding a sign with the words “Ebony Rip-off.”

Rolland Curtis took photographs of the theater during a visit by Billy G. Mills and Gilbert Lindsay. Curtis not only took publicity photos of the actors with the councilmen, he also photographed their performances and took formal portraits of the actors, all taking place during the same day. In order to identify the actors, and provide a date for the photos, it was important to determine the names of the productions.

Perhaps it was not the most sophisticated way to search the newspapers, but I decided to comb the Theater section of the LA Times every month, looking at the names of productions at the Ebony Showcase Theater from 1963 to 1970. It was quite time consuming, but it yielded the desired result; I had a list of the different productions at the theater, a history of everything that played. I then searched for reviews using the name of the productions. I found one in 1967 matching pictures Curtis took. After a bit of searching on the internet, I found a description of the play:

The summary, description, even the makeup and costumes, were exactly as described in Curtis’ photos. I also searched for photos of the actors billed in the article, double checking to make sure they matched up with Curtis’ photos and finally putting names to the actor’s faces.

Booker Bradshaw and Isabel Sanford.
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Morris Erby as the Mayor.

After matching such a distinctive play, I managed to narrow down the year and matched up the other 2 productions in Curtis’ pictures.

Booker Bradshaw, Juanita Moore and Isabel Sanford in Happy Ending.
Joseph Washington and Laurine Nevels in Lost in Stars.

All of the productions took place in 1967. Here are some of the portraits that Curtis took the same day.

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Here is a photo of Billy G. Mills with actors from Day of Absence. 

Morris Erby, Isabel Sanford and Juanita Moore with Billy G. Mills at the Ebony Showcase Theater.

Curtis also took a great picture of John Amos, with Nick and Edna Stewart and the rest of the Ebony Showcase players, during the Watts Summer Festival in 1971. Perhaps best known for his role as James Evans Sr. in the TV show Good Times, Amos celebrated his 76th birthday a few days ago. Amos was in a production of Norman is that you? The production was a Broadway flop that the Ebony Showcase Theater recast with black actors. The production became a hit that ran at the theater for seven years.



Oliver, Myrna. “Nick Stewart; Co-Founded Ebony Theater to Help Black Actors.” Los Angeles Times. December 21, 2000. Accessed December 28, 2015.

Shirley, Don. “Ebony Showcase Looks to ‘Norman’ to Bail It Out.” Los Angeles Times. April 14, 1991. Accessed December 28, 2015.

Freeing Angela Davis

Current total count: 17,040 photographs and negatives processed.

It’s been a very hectic few months , which is why there hasn’t been a blog post in quite a while. October was spent finishing up the initial processing of the majority of the collection. I had my birthday in November, along with Thanksgiving and my graduation from UBC, so I was gone for several weeks. I’ve processed nearly the entire collection, which is currently numbered at 17, 040 photos and negatives. There are a few hundred still unprocessed, orphans which may belong to other series or by themselves. I’m in the process of cleaning up the arrangement and still hold out hope that I can reunite a few to their original events. Currently, my desk has been overrun by the orphan photos, spread out in a gigantic game of memory.




I’m also halfway done with the work for the Curtis Exhibit, which will be unveiled in January 2016 at the History and Genealogy Department at the Central Branch of the LAPL. Photos and captions are almost complete, with an exhibit book in progress.

I thought this would be a great time to talk about the photos I managed to identify a few months ago regarding Angela Davis. Angela Davis was hired as an assistant professor for the Philosophy Department at UCLA. Davis was an activist, radical feminist, a member of the Communist Party, with ties to the Black Panther party. Months after she was hired, under the urging of Governor Ronald Reagan, Davis was fired by the Board of Regents at UCLA, mainly because of her membership in the Communist Party.

When her position was reinstated, largely because a judge ruled that the Regents could not fire her based solely on her political affiliations, the Regents released her again in 1970, firing her this time for language she used in her speeches at school.

It was around this time that the Soledad Brothers’ trial began. The Soledad Brothers were 3 African American men who had been accused of killing a prison guard at Soledad Prison. During their trial in 1970, an African American high school student named Jonathan Jackson held the courtroom hostage. Jackson was heavily armed, and while attempting to escape with the one of the defendants and hostages, the police opened fire on their vehicle, killing Jackson, the defendant and Superior Court Judge Harold Haley, who had been one of the hostages. Angela Davis had purchased the firearms used by Jackson days earlier and had been corresponding with one of the inmates. Based on this evidence, she was charged with aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley.

The subsequent manhunt for Angela Davis, which began on August 14, 1970, earned her a place on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list. Davis fled California, staying at friend’s homes and moving from place to place regularly. On October 13, 1970, FBI agents found her at a motor lodge in New York City, earning the praise of President Nixon on the “capture of the dangerous terrorist, Angela Davis.”

In the months she spent in jail before her trial, the “Free Angela Davis” movement grew and was in full force. Songs were written,  committees were started, in the United States and throughout the world, all with the goal of freeing Angela Davis. Bail and portions of her legal defense were paid for by churches and local businessmen. When a TWA flight was hijacked in 1972, one of the demands was the release of Angela Davis.

Which brings us to our mystery pictures:


You’ll have to excuse the quality of the pictures. I used the app on my phone to create positives from the negatives. It began with the picture of Billy Mills with the woman in glasses. This photo was part of the group indexed under Mills, Billy. The woman was unidentified. I couldn’t even read her pin. At the time, nothing else in the picture indicated the event, so I put the photo aside to identify later.

I then stumbled upon these pictures, which were indexed under Operation Breadbasket.



This was obviously a rally to free Angela Davis by Operation Breadbasket. It had been filed with all of the other Operation Breadbasket pictures. However, I recognized the woman Rev. H. H. Brookins was shaking hands with. With the help of my trusty jewelry loupe, I was able to read the award and identify the woman as Sallye Davis, the mother of Angela Davis, who had attended the Operation Breadbasket meeting.

It struck me as strange that the meeting seemed to be outdoors. All of the Operation Breadbasket meetings were indoors, at least in the pictures. I did a bit of digging and found an article in the Los Angeles Sentinel talking about the meeting.


She’s even wearing the same outfit in the picture! Hair, necklace, glasses, pin and everything! It turns out that the meeting began at Elks Hall, where Operation Breadbasket normally had meetings. However, in the middle of his speech, Reverend Jesse Boyd had been told that there was a bomb threat placed on the building. The building was evacuated, with hundreds of newly evacuated people milling around in the parking lot. Rev. Boyd and Rev. Brookins stood on a car bumper and called the people to order. A table was brought out and became a speakers platform, on which Rev. Boyd, Rev. Brookins and Sallye Davis stood for the rest of the meeting. Rolland Curtis was there to capture the entire event.

The police continued to search the building but found no bombs at Elks Hall. Davis was acquitted of all charges in June of 1972, by an all-white jury. The remaining Soledad Brothers were acquitted of all charges in March of 1972.



Cleaver, Jim. 1971. “Angela’s Mother Speaks Despite Threat of Bomb.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Jul 15, 2.



Negative Me and seeing the Positive

Beginning count: 5964

Today: 133

Total: 6097 photographs and negatives

A large percentage of the Curtis collection is comprised of negatives, with no physical print available. This complicates the processing of the collection for several reasons. First, processing photos of the fragmented collection becomes more arduous when using negatives. The negatives are difficult to compare against other prints or negatives for obvious reasons, like colors and details that I fail to associate because I am unable to translate them to the same colors and details without help. Second, the people in the photographs are more difficult to identify in negatives, further complicating the identification of events. Sometimes, the image needs to become a positive in order to identify events, colors and people in the photographs.

A few of the photos have already been digitized, allowing me to sort through the processed photos and negatives to make corrections; photos that should be grouped together, separated, etc. But the un-digitized photographs, the negatives, continued to plague my work, especially since they make up such a large part of the collection. This was until a few days ago, when I discovered an app called “Negative Me.”

“Negative Me” allows me to create digital positives of the negatives using my phone, allowing me to quickly identify the details, people, and possibly the event the negatives belong to. Here are a few examples.


This negative was only partially identified, filed with Billy Mills’ photographs. Experience allows me to identify Mills near the center, and even Tom Bradley next to him, and Finnie Jackson on the far left, but everyone else is a mystery. Using, “Negative Me”, this is what I get:


Suddenly, we not only see Finnie Jackson, Tom Bradley and Billy Mills in all their City Hall glory, we also see, to the right of Billy Mills, Academy Award winning actor Sidney Poitier! Now I know the event it belongs to, because Poitier visited City Hall for a resolution. And there are other photographs that should be grouped with this negative because they also capture the event.

The app was also useful yesterday with this negative:


Once again, I can identify Billy Mills, but I have no idea who the woman is next to him. Using the app, I was able to create this positive:


After consulting the brilliant Photo Collection team member, Christine Prime*, I discovered that the woman is actress Diahann Carroll, one of the first African American women to star in a television series. She was the lead role in the show Julia, one of the first shows that didn’t portray an African American woman as a domestic worker. She was also cast in some of the first movies, by major studios, that featured an African American cast. Her career in Broadway earned her the first Tony award ever bestowed upon an African American stage actress. Her film career earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her work in Claudine. 

Here’s a link to the app on Apple’s App store if you’re interested. It’s free and I have not been paid to review it:

*Christine Prime is the senior photo archives contractor in the department. I say senior because she’s been working for the department for 3 years. Her name isn’t really Christine Prime, but I’ll be calling her that in the blog because she was here first, and because she’s super knowledgeable. Christine Prime is not to be confused with Christina, who runs the entire department, and who is our boss. We could start a band if we wanted to, Kristine, Christine and Christina. We even have a Chris who volunteers.

The Life and Death of Rolland J. Curtis

Beginning count: 5,812

Today : 159

Total processed: 5971 photographs and negatives since July 7th, 2015.

Rolland Curtis with his mother Mathilda and brother Charles.

There isn’t a great deal of information readily available about Rolland J. Curtis. A good amount of research is required in order to fill out the early sections of his life, which I plan on accomplishing after the photographs are processed. The information we have is based on newspaper articles and information provided by the volunteer who initially processed the collection.

Rolland Curtis moved to Los Angeles from Louisiana in 1942 without even enough money to pay for a formal place to stay. There were no rooms available at the time so the YMCA director was kind enough to let him sleep in a closet at the 28th St. YMCA.

By 1951, Curtis’ life was vastly different. He was attending USC for his BS. He started a business with his friend Sterling Wallace called Trojan Chevron Service, a gasoline service station that employed other students. He hoped to finish his degree soon so that he could attend law school. He also played football at USC, which may be where he received his nickname “Speedy” and his trademark greeting of “Hey Coach!”

His “Hey Coach” greeting became a byword, and even when things were not going well for him, one never knew because he always had a smile and a good word.

Rolland J. Curtis playing football at USC

Curtis earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from USC as well. He spent four years in the LAPD’s Newton Division as a patrolman with Tom Bradley before becoming Bradley’s Field Deputy in 1964.

Rolland Curtis with Tom Bradley, his staff and Councilwoman Roz Wyman.

In 1967, Curtis became field deputy for City Councilman Billy G. Mills, where he remained until his assignment to the Model Cities program by Mayor Sam Yorty in 1972.

It was during his time as a field deputy for both Bradley and Mills that the pictures in the collection were taken.

Whenever there was a community affair, “Speedy” would be seen right down the front, sometimes taking pictures with his huge view camera, or sometimes just there to lend his support to community projects. But he was always there and he always had a smile.

There are only a handful of photos of Curtis in the collection, but the photos are rare enough to warrant special consideration. He seemed to favor taking photos with great men in sports.

Rolland Curtis meets Jackie Robinson

Rolland Curtis meets Joe Louis

On October 5th, 1972, Curtis was chosen by Mayor Sam Yorty to take over the troubled Model Cities Program. He resigned on February 2nd, 1974 due to continuing issues with the program itself. Curtis began a small publicity business after his resignation called SRO Curtisun Publicisits.

He operated a publicity business in a quonset type building off Western Ave. north of Adams. It was the cleanest, the neatest print shop I’ve ever seen. The floors were so clean you could eat off them. The machinery always looked new because it was constantly dusted and wiped and when not in use, kept under vinyl covers. Speedy was proud of that place, and he had every right to be.

Shortly there after, Billy Mills called him back to service and Curtis rejoined the councilman’s staff. When Mills was named to the Supreme Court by Governor Ronald Reagan, Curtis ran for his seat against his fellow staffer Robert Farrell.

Billy Mills with Rolland Curtis

Although he had the endorsement of Billy Mills, Tom Bradley supported Farrell, who ultimately won the seat. 4 years later, Farrell was the subject of a recall and Curtis once again ran for the seat and lost.

His ill-fated political campaigns did not leave him with bitterness. His was always a “wait-until-next-time” kind of attitude.

On May 13th, 1979, Mother’s Day, Rolland Curtis was delivering Mother’s Day bouquets to women in the community. Acts like this were common with Curtis.

Mills recalled Curtis was always concerned about other people, often taking up collections for those in need. “usually without the person’s knowledge.

As a man who throughout his life sought to assist others, he was never one to deny financial assistance to those in need, even if it meant going into debt himself. “Speedy was the kind of man who would have given his last dime to someone in need…”

He never forgot his friends and when the holidays rolled around, one could expect to see “Speedy” bearing gifts.

His wife Gloria returned from Mother’s Day celebrations later that day and found Rolland murdered, the victim of a robbery gone wrong. Police believed that Curtis interrupted a thief who had snuck through the doggy door and hit Curtis with a blunt instrument when Curtis discovered him.

It took 3 years for police to make an arrest in connection with the murder. The man was already serving a sentence and the officers searched through hundreds of fingerprints by hand until they found the suspect. Although charges were filed, we are unsure if the suspect was ever convicted. We are still researching the outcome.

What little we know about what Rolland “Speedy” Curtis was like, we can gather from what was written about him. The quotes throughout this post were snippets from the articles and obituaries written about Curtis after his death. I’ll leave you with one more quote about the man himself.

Speedy Curtis, the person, was industrious, gregarious, loud in a non-offensive manner. He was an archetype of the political showman. Possessing a booming voice, he never would greet you in a whisper if he could greet you with a shout. His opening lines were never serious if he could make them comical. His handshake never was merely strong if he could make it a knuckle-crusher. If you ever met Speedy Curtis, the person, you’d never forget him.

Speedy Curtis, the political operator, was much like the actor who always plays himself, regardless of the role. Playing himself, Speedy rarely failed to attract attention.


“Another Tragedy.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), May 24, 1979.

“Councilmen Clash Over Model Cities.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Oct 19, 1972.

“Council Race Promises Major Battles.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Jan 04, 1979.

DOC YOUNG, ,A.S. “Death Scores a Double.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), May 31, 1979.

Durant, Celeste. “Former Yorty Aide found Slain in Ransacked Home.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), May 15, 1979.

Harris, Lee. “Bradley Likely to Endorse Aide in Council Race.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Jun 08, 1974.

“Inquiring Reporter.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Oct 18, 1951.

Jones, Jack. “Suspect found in Slaying of Ex-City Aide.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Feb 11, 1982.

L C FORTENBERRY Sentinel,Staff Writer. “Recall Showdown Tues., Aug. 15.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Aug 10, 1978.

Mazique, Robert J. “Yorty Moves to Oust Model Cities Chief.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Sep 28, 1972.

“Memorial Fund.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Jun 07, 1979.

NICK BROWN Sentinel, Staff Writer. “Who Murdered ‘Speedy’ Curtis?” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), May 17, 1979.

“Photo Standalone 41 — no Title.” Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Aug 01, 1963.

The nature of the collection and the Kennedys

Beginning count: 4359

Today: 208

Total: 4567

One of the most influential foundations of archival practice that I learned early on in my education is the idea of “original order.” Original order is based on the idea that throughout the course of a person’s daily life, their records (and in this case, photographs), acquire an organization, or “order” from which researchers, historians and archivists can derive meaning and insight. For example, when looking at a pile of papers on a desk, the most recent, used or important tend to be at the top of the pile because they are used regularly, referred to often, or recently written. While there are many other nuances to the idea of original order, and how it should be interpreted, this is a simple example what it may mean for a specific instance.

Now granted, this concept has been interpreted many different ways, and is undergoing an evolution, even as we speak, in the archival world. Original order, though the ideal, is not realistic in a world where archives are donated and handled by different parties, aside from the creator, often after the creators death, and can sometimes change hands from one repository or archive to another. Original order is easily lost throughout the processing of the archives. And this is not to mention the idea that each creator of an archive may have different habits and practices when they create and use their records. Can we derive the same meaning from a pile of paper, regardless if the person is neat or messy, left handed or right handed, and so forth?

The reason I’m writing about original order today is because the original order of the Rolland J. Curtis collection has been lost. Through the changing of hands and storage, the photographs which I assume were originally arranged by the event Curtis was shooting, has been completely reorganized. The result is an alphabetical arrangement of the photos by the people in the photo.

While this is great for identification purposes, from an archival standpoint, this becomes problematic, for several reasons. First, if there were multiple people in the photos, photos taken at a party for instance, the entire event was split up and dispersed among the photograph’s subjects. If there were 5 people in the picture, the photographs were distributed into 5 separate piles, and then each pile was filed by one of the people’s names. There is no record of how the photographs were split up, so it’s very difficult to determine what the “original order” was for the photographs. To complicate matters, the photographs of people, regardless of the event, were all combined together and filed under the person’s name. Basically, every single photograph of the person in the entire collection, comprising what we estimate is 14-20,000 photos and negatives, was separated from the groups of events, and combined together with photographs of the person from other events, and filed under the person’s name.

The result is what I like to call “the most epic game of memory.” While I am processing the photos, I try to remember specific details about the photos, like clothing, furniture, wallpaper, setting, and people. The goal is to match up photographs that were taken at the same event, in an effort to recreate the original arrangement and grouping of the photos. While I understand that I may not ever be able to recreate the original order perfectly, at least making an attempt will help the context of the photos and our ability to understand them.

After successfully grouping the photographs together by the event, the next challenge is to figure out the event that the photograph captures. This is an equally challenging task because Curtis doesn’t appear to have written records of the events in the photographs, so we rely on research and information written on the photos by the first person who processed the collection. I’ve also been searching through the Los Angeles newspaper archives, specifically the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Sentinel.


These photos of Ted Kennedy provide great clues as to the event. Kennedy is at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. He is speaking behind a picture of Lyndon B Johnson, possibly because he is campaigning for him. To his right is a picture of John F. Kennedy, which may place the date of the picture after his assassination in 1963.


In the case of the photographs of Robert Kennedy, the LAPL’s online photo collection was quite helpful. The photograph below was one of the photographs Curtis took during Kennedy’s presidential campaign in Los Angeles. This photograph would be a challenge to identify on its own. Though I can identify many people in the photos, the location, date, and time of the photo is not discernible. However, a search through the LAPL’s photo collection yielded a similar photo taken by a newspaper, complete with date, time, and information on the event. This particular photo was taken on the way to Kennedy’s speech at the Watts Writers Workshop, which was established after the 1965 Watts riot.



The same was the case for this photo, which was taken in a school during what appears to be a press conference. We don’t know what the name of the school is, or why Kennedy was speaking there, but we can identify Councilman Billy Mills next to him. The LAPL photo collection had a photo from a newspaper at the same time with information chronicling the date, time, and the reason why. Kennedy was speaking at Markham Junior High School in South Los Angeles in 1964 during a tour of the city, years before he began campaigning for president.

While the photographs were separated by years, they were contained within the same envelope and filed under Robert Kennedy, which implied that they were taken around the same time and the same place. I’ve separated these photographs by the each event, providing context to the photographs once again.

All-American Indian Week 1968

Beginning Count: 3,239

Today: 269

Total 3,508 photos and negatives processed since July 7th, 2015.

Today, I researched a set of photos labeled as “All-American Indian Week – Wrigley Field.”


This is one of the pictures in the set with no information. I think it “stands” well on its own, no explanation required.

All-American Indian Week was a 3 day event running from November 22nd – 24th, 1968 at Wrigley Field.The event featured arts and crafts, exhibitions, and demonstrations with proceeds going to Native American social and educational programs. The week was kicked off by a presentation of the resolution declaring it All-American Indian Week to Chief George Pierre by the LA City Council at City Hall.


This is Chief Pierre on the far left, next to Councilman Gilbert Lindsay in the front row, and Billy Mills on the microphone. Chief Pierre was a member of the Colville Indian Reservation and Chief of the Coville Confederated Tribes of Washington.

What I found most interesting in the photo is the presence of the man to the right of Billy Mills. The man is a famous actor named “Iron Eyes” Cody, who appeared in films and TV shows, but was most famous of his “Crying Indian” commercial during the early 1970s, wherein he portrays an American Indian shedding a tear over the littering of trash on land and rivers.

Iron Eyes Cody was actually of Italian descent. His real name was Espera Oscar de Cort. I found it interesting that an actor, who was known for portraying a Native American on screen, but was actually Italian in real life, would participate as an American Indian in the festivities and at City Hall.


I discovered that Iron Eyes Cody had actually adopted the Native American heritage as his own, marrying a Native American woman, adopting 2 Native American children, and even championing and becoming a spokesperson for Native American causes. His impact was such that the Hollywood Native American community acknowledged his contributions through his portrayals and his support of important causes, explaining that though he was not a Native American by birth, his deeds more than spoke to his devotion to the community.

Just one more pic of the lasso cowboy with his dogs before I go…


The project so far:

Beginning Count: 2,653

Today: 302

Total: 2,955 photographs and negatives processed since July 7th, 2015.

Today I finished up the 2nd box of photographs in the collection and began the 3rd. I’m averaging about 200-300 photographs and negatives a day. When I began working on this collection over a year ago, I spent 3 weeks processing the first of 7 boxes of photos. When I started again on July 7th, I’ve managed to finish a box in less than 3 weeks, so processing is slowly picking up speed.

Here are some of the photos I’ve worked on so far:


One of the first photos I worked on was this set. One of the challenges with this photo archive is that there is very little background information about why some photos were taken. In this case, it’s quite obvious that Ali was already quite famous at the time the picture was taken, but where this was taken and why he was there is still unknown. I assume that the picture was taken at City Hall. Billy Mills actually performed the ceremony for Ali’s third marriage to Veronica Porsche in 1977, so it’s possible that they knew each other at the time the picture was taken, which is why Ali may have visited City Hall. I haven’t had a chance to research as to whether or not this was the case. In this picture, he is shaking hands with Assemblyman Leon Ralph.


This is one of my favorite pictures that just recently got digitized. The entire archive is still in the process of being digitized, only a few hundred or so are. But this is another one of the early ones that I processed last year. Another challenge is that a large percentage of the photographs are only present in negatives. It can be difficult to tell whether photos actually belong together in groups just by looking their negatives. This is further complicated by Curtis’ use of both black and white and color film for the same events. I’ve spent entire days hunched over a light box with a loupe trying to make sense of piles of photos to see if they were taken at the same event. This particular set of photos were only negatives when I processed them, so seeing them digitized in full color is fantastic. I particularly love Louis Armstrong’s smile in this picture, which is the same smile present on all of his pictures in this group.

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