[Comedian Imogene Coca with trombone, Village Vanguard, Greenwich Village, New York]
Comedian Imogene Coca (1908–2001) was best known for her role opposite Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, a popular television variety program in the early 1950s. Coca began her career as a vaudeville and nightclub performer in the 1930s, and performed at venues including Café Society, the Blue Angel, and the Village Vanguard, all photographed by Vishniac. The remarkable elasticity of Coca’s face and the expressiveness of her gestures—the visible elements of her comedic craft—stand out against the deep shadows and stage lighting of the smoky nightclub. Max Gordon, a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant, opened the Village Vanguard in 1935 at Seventh Avenue South and Perry Street in Greenwich Village. Today famous as a jazz club, in the 1940s the Vanguard hosted poetry, folk music, and left-leaning comedy, which flourished in the bohemian, comparatively racially integrated atmosphere of Greenwich Village.
For all uses of photographs by Roman Vishniac contact ICP at: [email protected].
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