Toni Frissell

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Toni Frissell
Toni Frissell.jpg
"I'd Rather Stalk with a Camera Than a Gun", c. 1935
Born March 10, 1907
Manhattan, New York, United States
Died April 17, 1988
Long Island, New York, United States
Occupation Photographer
Spouse(s) Francis M. Bacon, III

Toni Frissell, or Antoinette Frissell Bacon, (March 10, 1907 - April 17, 1988) was an American photographer, known for her fashion photography, World War II photographs, and portraits of famous Americans and Europeans, children, and women from all walks of life.

Pre-war career[edit]

1937 photograph of Frida Kahlo for Vogue

Antoinette Frissell was born in 1907 in Manhattan, NY, but took photos under the name Toni Frissell, even after her marriage to Manhattan socialite McNeil Bacon. She worked with many famous photographers of the day. Her initial job, as a fashion photographer for Vogue in 1931, was due to Condé Montrose Nast personally. She later took photographs for Harper's Bazaar. Her fashion photos, even of evening gowns and such, were often notable for their outdoor settings, emphasizing active women.

World War II[edit]

Portrait of Tuskegee airman Edward M. Thomas by Toni Frissell, March 1945.
Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida (1947). This image was later used as the cover for the album Undercurrent by Bill Evans and Jim Hall, the album Tears in Rain by This Ascension and Osvaldo Golijov's "Oceana," and also for the album Whispering Sin by the Beauvilles.

In 1941, Frissell volunteered her photographic services to the American Red Cross. Later she worked for the Eighth Army Air Force and became the official photographer of the Women's Army Corps. On their behalf, she took thousands of images of nurses, front-line soldiers, WACs, African-American airmen, and orphaned children. She traveled to the European front twice. Her moving photographs of military women and African American fighter pilots in the elite 332d Fighter Group (the "Tuskegee Airmen") were used to encourage public support for women and African Americans in the military.

After the war[edit]

In the 1950s, she took informal portraits of the famous and powerful in the United States and Europe, including Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, and worked for Sports Illustrated and Life magazines. Continuing her interest in active women and sports, she was the first woman on the staff of Sports Illustrated in 1953, and continued to be one of very few female sport photographers for several decades.

In later work she concentrated on photographing women from all walks of life, often as a commentary on the human condition.


Her photographs illustrated:

Personal life[edit]

Daughter of Lewis Fox Frissell and Antoinette Wood Montgomery, Granddaughter of Algernon Sydney Frissell; founder and president of the Fifth Avenue Bank of New York, Great-Granddaughter of Mary Whitney Phelps and Governor of Missouri; John S. Phelps. Descendant (GG Granddaughter) of Elisha Phelps: US Representative from Connecticut (1819–21, 1825–29). Descendant (GGG Granddaughter) of Maj. Gen. Noah Phelps: Revolutionary War hero. Sister of Phelps Montgomery Frissell and Filmmaker Lewis Varick Frissell who was killed in Newfoundland during the filming of “The Viking” in 1931.

Toni Frissell died of Alzheimer's disease on April 17, 1988, in a Long Island nursing home. Her husband, Francis M. Bacon 3rd, of Bacon, Stevenson & Company, predeceased her. She was survived by a daughter and a son.

External links[edit]