I think there are about 8 or so known photos of Keeler floating around (that I'm aware of), so this was a real find. The many, many photos in the collection are of everything from childhood photos and photos of his relatives to wacky snapshots of a party-hearty Harry at Mystery Writers of America parties in the 60's (even in 'blackface'!). There were many snapshots of his first wife Hazel and his second, Thelma. There were quite a few press photos and professional portraits done for press purposes (I assume) - how some of the best of these didn't get used is a mystery. Oh, and lots of photos of his cats. Since Columbia charges $40 a piece(!) for photo reproduction, I was unfortunately only able to make Xeroxes of the photographs. Some, as you'll see, turned out better than others. I realised that when I scanned the Xeroxs into my computer as a color photo, I could get better resolution - that is why so many of them have a blue tint. I sent the original Xeroxes to Richard Polt at The Harry Stephen Keeler Society, thought it might be best to leave them in his hands. I didn't scan all the photos I copied either, these I just thought were the most interesting:
These two press photos are great. Harry sitting down in front of what is obviously a movie poster for the film "Sing Sing Nights", a 1919 novel of his which was miraculously made into two films by Monogram Studios in 1934 (note producer Paul Malvern's name at the bottom). In the left photo he has a little cigarette holder that has a little metallic skull on the end. It's hard to tell from the Xerox, but that's a cigarette sticking vertically out of the top of the holder, not a stream of smoke. I've never seen these photos before but they must have been used for something, somewhere (film promotion?). The movie "Sing Sing Nights" was released in 1934 (when Harry was 44), and this photo looks like it was probably taken around that time. Although it could possibly have been taken later than that, look at the wide tie - and doesn't Harry look older than 44? "Hmmm..."
Harry the celebrity! This press photo was included in a press kit from the opening of "The 1929 Christmas Savings Club Account Number One" at Capital Savings Bank in Chicago on November 24th, 1928. The folder contained many press clippings, as well as the bank's own press release, which praised Harry as an author of many successful mystery novels. How's that compound interest doing? See: Keeler's sci-fi short story, "John Jones' Dollar."
The bank press kit also includes this photo of their great Keeler window display. It has a Capital Savings Bank plaque which mark's Harry as the first to open an account in the savings club (complete with a characiture of a 'chinaman'), a portrait of Harry, some of his books, little Chinese hats with playing cards attached to them, little Chinese temples, and other odds and ends that are hard to make out.
This one is my favorite. A fantastic
photo of Harry with his first wife Hazel Goodwin Keeler (maiden name: Hazel
Victoria Goodwin - a professional author in her own right, she co-wrote
a few of Harry's novels). This photo had no date on it, and it may have
possibly been some kind of press or promo photo. Isn't Harry's facial expression
odd? Harry and Hazel were married from 1919 to 1960 (when Hazel passed
away). Below is a signed portrait of Harry to Hazel from 1917:
SIGNED: "To Hazel Victoria Goodwin sweetheart, "pal" and comrade in "the great game" from Harry Stephen Keeler author of 'The Miracle Agent' 'The Crilly Court Mystery' etc. Sept 3/1917""The Miracle Agent" was a short story about a man's brain being transplanted into a gorrila that was reprinted in Sing Sing Nights under the title "The Missing Link", The Crilly Court Mystery was published in 1933.
Here are three photos of Harry looking rather dapper. The one on the left was taken in 1912 (at age 22) by someone named D. Rogers. The middle one snapped at Jackson Park in Chicago in 1914 by R. J. Harry was 24 here. I'm guessing the photo on the right was sometime after the left two, he looks a little older.
Here are five pictures of Harry in different hats, taken in 1914. Why? I have no idea! And who is the Daly Co.? The type-written caption Taken in the West about four years ago (with the written 'Minot, N. Dak'; a town in North Dakota) was below the fifth picture, which was in a separate place in the archive box. Well at least we know where they were taken, at least one of them, and then again only maybe.
Here's a signed portrait from 1919. I assume the magazine he is referring to is 10 Story Book, a pulp magazine which he edited from 1919 to 1940. Where's the signature?
Here's a photo with Harry and one of his cats. There were several photos of cats in the archives and on the back of one of them, Harry had inscribed "Cat Names: Him Him Sip Soo, Simey, Squawko, Miette, Big Boy, Koko". Names of his actual cats? Ideas for names of cats that appeared in his novels? Probably both. Sure enough I happened to be reading The Case of the Transposed Legs at the time, and within the novel there is a book-within-a-book (a device commonly used by Harry) titled "Kats I Have Known" by O. O. Orange (which was actually Keeler the writer himself appearing as a character in his own novel, yet under a pseudonym because of a loop in the plot - whew!). In "Kats I Have Known", Orange describes the personalities of many cats, of which two are named Hooey-Hooey-Sip-Soo and Squawko (and his brother Squeako). Of course the best "Kat" name to come out of The Case of the Transposed Legs (and just another one of Keeler's hysterically odd choices for character names) was the name given to the cat which roamed the novel's prison setting: Furbelly Wavetail.
Here are two priceless/unbelievable photos of Harry at a 1950's Mystery Writers of America masquerade party. What is Harry supposed to be dressed as? Is he in black face? Well, no one ever called Harry's writing politically correct, that's for sure. I'm not even going to touch that one on the right!
Here's another photo of Harry at a Mystery Writers of America party, this time in 1960. The inscription says: "MWA meeting, Oct. '60 at Pelican Towers" and then notes the people in the photo as Jane and Harry. Who's Jane?
Here's a VERY interesting press photo of Harry, probably taken in 1956, standing in front of copies of his books (of which I see four different printings of Sing Sing Nights). The most interesting thing about this photo? Harry's tattoo! Something I certainly would have never guessed. What is it of? I'm pretty sure this photo was taken by The Chicago Tribune for their "Today With Women" section from July 18th, 1956. In it was a story about Harry and Hazel (reproduced in HSK Society Bulletin No. 22, August 1999) and their lives together, which featured photos of Harry looking the same and wearing the exact same clothes and hair (and possibly standing in front of that same pattern on the wall).
Here are two child portraits of Harry.
There were no dates on them. I'm guessing about 4 years old on the left
and maybe a year or two older on the right.
Harry's parents! Here they are, don't they look proud? No date on photograph.
Here's Harry standing in front of a house in 1913 - his home I presume. He was 23 at the time.
Did he live with his mother? His own home?
Here are two portraits of Harry, these have been reproduced many times.
Here's an interesting portrait of Harry where he looks pretty young. Inscription says "Property of H. S. Keeler, 740 N. State St. Chicago. Please mail to owner after halftone is made."
While going through the achives, I found a printed business envelope and the return address was:
Keeler's Mystery Workshop, 740 N. State St. Chicago, IL
I know this is where Harry lived and worked for a while but I'm not sure of the dates.
Some of the other photos I found, but didn't copy were the following (going by my notes):
- A metal locket sealed in a lace
envelope, which had Harry's baby picture inside
- Many baby pictures of Harry
- Photo of someone named Edmund O'Brian
- Photo of Will Keeler
- Photos of Harry as a teen, hanging out with others
- Photo of Harry and Mary Clark
- Photos of Harry's grandparents
- a vacation snapshot of Harry, Hazel and Hazel's mother taken in 1952
- Photo of someone named Jade Swayne
- Photo of Margaret Jones in front of house pictured above, with Hazel in background, taken in 1913
- A very interesting photo of Harry's aunt (on Harry's mother's side), Sara Barllett Jones and his cousin John Davis Jones taken in Indianapolis, IN. The photo had lots of notes scribbled all over it, saying that Harry's uncle, Summer Jones (John Davis' father), had "dissapeared" and that Sara had died "unmarried" on Valentines Day, 1954 and had left Harry and Hazel as the heirs to their estate
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