Category: 1950s

Sallie Blair

(1934 – 1992)

was an African-American jazz singer from Baltimore. She began her career singing with Johnny Otis and Duke Ellington in the early 1950s before she won the talent competition Chance of a Lifetime on ABC-TV. Soon after she joined Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Revue and then became a popular nightclub act. Sallie was a reoccurring performer on Ed Sullivan’s shows and was rumored to have had an affair with him. She performed for the royal family at the London Palladium and broke protocall by kicking off her shoes and doing a sexy barefoot dance. Although Sallie released two albums as a solo artist, Squeeze Me (1957) and Hello, Tiger! (1958), she was more known for her beauty and sex appeal. Sallie often changed her hair color, but early in her career she was known for being a blonde. The press referred to her as the  "blonde bombshell” and Miles Davis called her the “brown Marilyn Monroe.” She married pianist and arranger Rene DeKnight in 1963 and still appeared on TV throughout the the 1960s as her popularity waned. In 1978, Sallie was linked to Warren Beatty then she disappeared from the public. She died at the age of 57 in 1992.

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Marilyn Monroe arriving by helicopter to a party held in her honor in August 1952. It was hosted by orchestra leader Ray Anthony who debuted a song he wrote for her titled “Marilyn.”  

Dorothy Dandridge photographed by Edward Clark for LIFE magazine, 1951.

Marilyn Monroe by Kashio Aoki on her honeymoon to second husband Joe DiMaggio, as she fled paparazzi en route from Tokyo in 1954. Grateful for Aoki’s kindness, she allowed him to take personal photos. 

Eartha Kitt photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine, 1952.

Jazz singer Sallie Blair (1934-1992) photographed by Eliot Elisofon for LIFE magazine, 1957.

Dorothy Dandridge photographed by Edward Clark for LIFE magazine, 1951.

Il Tuffatore, 1951 – Ph. Nino Migliori 

“New York City”, 1955 – Ph. Elliott Erwitt

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Opera singer Margaret Tynes photographed by Carl Van Vechten on September 29, 1959.