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Why In The World Are The Notables Jumping?

The astonishing photograph on the above is only one of the many surprises in an extraordinary new book. It is called Jump Book, and in it the Duke and Duchess of Windsor plus 174 other celebrated people—from Marilyn Monroe to 87-year-old Judge Learned Hand—forgo gravity and self-consciousness in order to go up in the air. Never before has such a gathering been seen in such unexpected flight.

Why did they all jump? Simply because Photographer Philippe Halsman asked them to.

Halsman is a master photographer of famous people and, since his mind runs in unconventional channels, he started suggest some years ago that subjects jump before his camera. Only a handful—all men—have refused. Among them were Herbert Hoover who explained that he was not an actor, and Van Cliburn who would not explain. The Duchess of Windsor turned Halsman down when he first asked her but at a later sitting, when he was packing his camera, she a Don’t you want me to jump?” He did—and the duke insisted on getting into the act.

As his gallery grew, Halsman saw a correlation between his subjects’ jumps and personalities. He expresses it in the preface to Jump Book, published this week by Simon and Schuster. “In a burst of energy the subject overcomes gravity. He cannot also control all his muscles. The mask falls. The real self becomes visible, and one needs only to snap it with a camera. I call this jumpology. The time may someday come when psychiatrists will diagnose hidden characristics not with the slow and painstaking Rorschach test but with the rapid and hurtling Halsman.”

Judge Learned Hand


Halsman’s senior jumper is the 87-year-old retired judge of the Second U.S. Circuit Court. According to Halsman, his leap denotes a fighting spirit, for he holds his legs “as though there were a specific obstacle which he tries to clear.”

Thomas E. Dewey


The former governor and presidential candidate, now a corporation and international lawyer in New York, jumps high and purposefully. Says Halsman, “The outstretched, reaching hand is a definite sign of singleness of ambition.”

J. Robert Oppenheimer


The famous physicist, now director of Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, asked how Halsman interpreted this jump. Perhaps, said Halsman, he was trying to show a new direction? “No,” said Oppenheimer, “I was just reaching.”

Father Martin C. D’Arcy


The two outstretched arms and upturned face of Britain’s distinguished Jesuit theologian, who comes to U.S. Next year as a guest professor at Georgetown University, reflect, to Halsman, “a personality of deep spiritual exaltation.”

Paul Tillich


“Straightforward and logical” is the way Halsman describes German-born Harvard Theologian Paul Tilliich. “The professor seems to be jumping an obstacle on the ground as befits a leading philosopher of down-to-earth Protestantism.”

Adlai E. Stevenson & Vice President Nixon


Antagonists in two presidential campaigns and possible rivals in 1960, Stevenson and Nixon obliged Halsman, who says of their jumps, “They still looked like politicians, Nixon as though he were addressing a crowd and Stevenson as though he were leading its cheers.”

Politicians, Businessmen and a Leaper Who Takes After His Dad


Philip D. Reed


The former board chairman of General Electric jumped with such extraordinary gusto that Halsman saw a likely explanation for Reed’s success. Agreed Reed: “I always put my self entirely into whatever I do.”

General David Sarnoff & Robert Sarnoff


The inheritability of jumps is inferred by father (left), chairman of RCA, and son (right), chairman of NBC. “They jumped 14 months apart,” says Halsman, “but had the same strength and confidence.”

Some Lovely Ladies Letting Go and Kicking Up


Sophia Loren & Audrey Hepburn


These jumps by two international movie stars were photographed near Rome—Italian-born Loren on Appian Way and Belgian-born Audrey on her rented estate. Despite differences of background and temperament, their leaps are similarly abandoned and joyful, according to Halsman. “Neither girl,” he says “is inhibited while jumping. I asked them to jump and they simply did so as their instinct dictated. They both lead with their hearts rather than with their heads.”

Marilyn Monroe


On the above photo as on the cover, Marilyn jumps with legs tucked under her. Explains Halsman, “When an adult woman jumps with bent knees like a little girl, it shows that, during the jump at least, she has become a girl again.”

Brigette Bardot


France’s sex queen also jumps as a child would. “It is characteristic of our times,” says Halsman, “that today’s most popular movie queens are basically child-women, who have been raised to the level of goddesses by insecure men.”

Princess Grace of Monaco


Grace Kelly took her shoes off to jump as did most lady leapers. A woman does this, says Halsman, “because she worries that something might happen to her or her shoes . . . a definition of prudence.” But Miss Kelly’s impish jump mystifies Halsman; “It does not help me understand why she went on to become princess of Monaco. The study of jumps is new, and I am groping in the dark.



It is a quote. LIFE MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 1959

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