Happy 100th birthday, Robert Capa!

For the centenary of the birth of Robert Capa, we are pleased to release a newly discovered 1947 radio interview with Robert Capa.

“Bob Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad” was broadcast on October 20, 1947 on the 8.30 a.mm morning radio show “Hi! Jinx.” The interview was part of the press relations surrounding the publication of Slightly Out of Focus, Capa’s autobiographical novel chronicling his adventures during World War II published by Henry Holt and Company that year.

“Hi! Jinx” was national program on NBC radio that started in 1946 by Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary. The husband and wife team were pioneers of what would be called the talk show format. They eventually had two radio programs, a five-day-a week television program and a syndicated column in the New York Herald Tribune. Falkenburg was a model and had been photographed by Capa in December 1940 following one of her performances in Al Jolson’s musical “Hold on to Your Hat.” McCrary was a journalist and as an Army Air Corps colonel had led the first journalists into the ruins of Hiroshima.

Previous attempts to locate this in national radio archives were unsuccessful. None had recordings of this specific show. It only existed as a written note with the date and subject. The recording showed up recently on eBay from a seller in Western Massachusetts who had discovered the recording and others several years ago in the area from an estate sale. The record is a 33 1/3 rpm microgroove recording made by Associated Recording Services, an archival recording service.

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This recording is the only known recording of Robert Capa. While he gave other public talks, this was the only radio interview and he was never interviewed on television. Only scant newsreel films show him in action, and none with his voice. He appeared in a few Hollywood productions but was cast as a mute Arab.

His first language was Hungarian, but he learned, in order, German, French, Spanish, and English. English became his dominant written and spoken language by 1941. His speech was dubbed “Capaese” by friends and was considered incomprehensible, but the interview reveals Capa to be not only clear but highly articulate. His easy style underscores his innate proclivity for self-deprecation, humor, and storytelling.

The interview starts with stories from his recent trip to the USSR with John Steinbeck and then turns to other subjects: poker, the invention of his name, his so-called last image of the war taken of an American soldier killed in Leipzig in April 1945. But it is Capa who brings up his famous “Falling Soldier” image and describes how it was made. He says, “The prize picture is born in the imagination of the editors and the public who sees them.” It is the only public comments we have directly from him about the famous image.

You can listen to the recording here.

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