Tales of the Secret Life of the Bullfighter From Brooklyn With the Center for Jewish History

Sidney Franklin and Eddie Cantor on the set of 'The Kid from Spain' in 1932. Image via American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History


    A Brooklyn boy made good in an unusual profession in the 1920s, gaining celebrity while suppressing his identity.

    The story of Sidney Franklin, a closeted gay man who left Brooklyn for Mexico and achieved fame as a bullfighter, is the subject of a special “Out of the Box” lecture at the Center for Jewish History. Using photographs, clippings, audio recordings and other material, Rachel Miller, Director of Archive and Library Services, hunted for clues that pieced together Franklin’s unusual life.

    Born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in 1903, the future toreador grew up on Jackson Place in Park Slope. He dropped out of high school and headed to Mexico where, after a change of name from Frumkin to Franklin, he debuted as a bullfighter in 1923.

    sidney franklin

    A photo of Sidney Franklin in action, taken by Ernest Hemingway. Image via American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History

    He hobnobbed with celebrities of the day, including Ernest Hemingway, who mentioned him in his book “Death in the Afternoon,” and had a decades-long career that took him around the world. He died in 1976, and the complicated story of his life as a gay, Jewish bullfighter has remained largely unexplored.

    The lecture takes place on Monday, June 3 at the Center for Jewish History at 15 West 16th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are $10 with senior tickets available for $7 and member and student tickets for $5. For more information and to purchase tickets got to the event page here.

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