Kup and Monique Von Vooren (l) Essie (r).
Picture perfect moments are filed along the musty front counter of Yesterday’s, 1143 W. Addison.
The photographs of Don Fisher are for sale.
The black and white pictures catch local celebrities and visitors to Chicago in awesome, innocent poses.
Some subjects look startled.
Fisher’s snapshots are all pre-paparazzi from the 1960s and 70s. His best photos use the city as a background. Yesterday’s owner Tom Boyle sells the pictures for $5 each.
Be patient and you will find a connection.
I bought a Fisher of Kup and Essie with someone called Monique Van Vooren. (Id’s are hand scrawled on the back of most pictures).”Match Game” funny man Charles Nelson Reilly is carrying some manila envelopes accompanied by a strapping young man.
WMAQ-TV news anchor Floyd Kalber stands alone along the Chicago River. He could be out chasing a story, but he is posing for Don Fisher.
Rich Little and Mel Torme are wearing big winter coats on a Chicago sidewalk. They actually stopped for the photo, which is dated 1975.
In the late 1970s Boyle purchased several hundred photographs and negatives from Fisher.
There’s Dinah Shore, Andy Williams and Hugh Downs. Gore Vidal. Rose Marie. Paul Anka. Even talk show host Tom Snyder.
Boyle picked up a photo like a baton from a distant symphony and said, “Andre Kostelanetz. Certainly you have heard of him. People buy these and show them to friends pretending they knew them. One girl bought a whole box of late ’60s and early ’70s photos (that included the Beatles) for $500. She wanted to cheer up her boyfriend. ”
I need to meet a woman like that.
Boyle last saw Fisher in July, 2006. “He came here and actually bought back some of his pictures,” He took a picture of me with my grammar school friend who happened to be in the store.”
I looked around the web for Don Fisher.
The Chicago History Museum has 37 Fisher prints that measure 3 1/2 x 5 inches, the same size as the Yesterday’s collection. They are dated 1978-90.
Their website reads, “Primarily includes photographs of charity events, such as telethons and other events in Chicago that show entertainers, celebrities and political figures in attendance. Also includes a few photographs of demonstrations by the Chicago Transit Authority (1979 strike) and citizen groups against the Art Institute of Chicago.” I made a few calls to the Chicago Museum History staff, but they could not track down Fisher.
Floyd Kalber, man on the go. Sometimes.
I also found an obituary for Fisher’s brother Al, who died on June 26, 2013. He was 94. He was a pianist at Chicago restaurants including Surf and Surrey, Elliott’s Pine Log, the Oyster and Tom Brown’s Coachlight Restaurant. I would call those supper clubby establishments, but they are long closed.
A notice from the Cremation Society of Illinois (“Think Outside The Box”) stated, “Dearest brother and best friend of Don Fisher (celebrity photographer, singer and old-time radio actor). Son of the late Samuel and Mary Fisher, cousin of Adrienne Singer, former gentleman friend of Arlene Cohen.”
“I always had a great interest in history,: Boyle told me in a 1988 interview at his store–which really hasn’t changed since then. “You always want to go back to an era where you weren’t even alive. In order to do that, you have to go back to the raw materials of that time.”
Boyle, 82, has taken some celebrity snapshots of his own.
He pulled out a faded photo of the first “Star Wars” cast with Harrison Ford visiting his store with thousands of items crammed into a ramshackle frame building constructed in 1884. “Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia all were here,” he said. “They came when ‘Star Wars’ opened (in 1977). At the time they were unknown. They had done a WGN-radio interview (then on West Bradley Place). As they were driving by in a limousine Mark Hamill spotted a Beatle poster in the window. I didn’t even know who they were.”
They had not been discovered by Don Fisher.