William Paul Gottlieb (January 28, 1917 – April 23, 2006) was an American photographer and newspaper columnist who is best known for his classic photographs of the leading performers of the Golden Age of American jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. Gottlieb's photographs are among the best known and widely reproduced images of this era of jazz.
William P. Gottlieb
William Paul Gottlieb
January 28, 1917
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 23, 2006 (aged 89)|
Great Neck, New York, U.S.
Gottlieb made portraits of hundreds of prominent jazz musicians and personalities, typically while they were playing or singing at well-known New York City jazz clubs. Gottlieb's subjects included Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, Jo Stafford, Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Ray McKinley, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Jordan, Ella Fitzgerald, Toots Thielemans, Cab Calloway, and Benny Carter. In accord with his wishes, Gottlieb's photographs were placed in the public domain; many are used in Wikipedia and other public domain or freely licensed venues.
Gottlieb was born on January 28, 1917, in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn, and grew up in Bound Brook, New Jersey, where his father was in the building and lumber business. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1938 with a degree in economics. While at Lehigh, Gottlieb wrote for the weekly campus newspaper and became editor-in-chief of The Lehigh Review. In his last year of college, he began writing a weekly jazz column for The Washington Post. While writing for the Post, Gottlieb taught economics at the University of Maryland. After the Post determined that it would not pay a photographer to accompany Gottlieb's visits to jazz clubs, Gottlieb borrowed a press camera and began taking pictures for his column.
Gottlieb was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943, and served as a photography and a classifications officer. After World War II, Gottlieb moved to New York City to pursue a career in journalism. He worked as a writer-photographer for Down Beat magazine, and his work also appeared frequently in Record Changer, the Saturday Review, and Collier's. In 1948, Gottlieb retired from jazz journalism in order to spend more time with his wife, Delia, and children.
After Gottlieb left Down Beat, he began working at Curriculum Films, an educational filmstrip company. He founded his own filmstrip company, which was later bought by McGraw Hill. Many of his filmstrips won awards from the Canadian Film Board and the Educational Film Librarians Association. Gottlieb also wrote and illustrated children's books, including several Golden Books such as The Four Seasons, Tigers Adventure, and Laddie the Superdog. He also wrote educational books such as Science Facts You Won't Believe and Space Flight.
Apart from his photography career, Gottlieb also played amateur tennis. Gottlieb and his son Steven were often ranked the number one father-and-son team on the East Coast, and were twice ranked among the top ten teams in the US.
Gottlieb married the former Delia Potofsky, daughter of Jacob Potofsky. They had four children, Barbara, Steven, Richard, and Edward. Gottlieb died of complications of a stroke on April 23, 2006, in Great Neck, New York.
- Douglas Martin (April 25, 2006). "William Gottlieb, 89, Jazz Photographer". New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
William P. Gottlieb, who with a boxy, old-fashioned press camera indelibly defined what jazz looked like in a brief, magical time when both early legends like Armstrong and Ellington and the emerging beboppers ruled the bandstands and radio waves, died on Sunday at his home in Great Neck, N.Y. He was 89. The cause was a stroke, his wife, Delia, said.
- "Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz The William P. Gottlieb Collection at the Library of Congress". Library of Congress. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- "Collection: William P. Gottlieb negatives | Archival Collections". archives.lib.umd.edu. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
- William P. Gottlieb Archived June 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, AllAboutJazz, accessed November 9, 2010
- "UVA Library". www2.lib.virginia.edu.
- "William P. Gottlieb, 89; Jazz Journalist's Photos of Performers Captured a Golden Age of Music", Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2006, Jon Thurber