Allan Arbus

Allan Arbus

Allan Arbus was born on 15 February 1918 in New York. He was an American photographer and actor, famous for his role in a TV series called MASH as Dr. Sidney Freedman, a psychiatrist. . He was the son of Rose and Harry, a stockbroker. Allan went to DeWitt Clinton High School in Bronx. In this institute, he developed a fondness for acting when he was included in a stage play. Before acting, Allan was interested in music and hence had learned how to play the clarinet.

Allan married another photographer named, Diane and their children were Amy Arbus and Doon Arbus. Their children are photographer , and director and writer, respectively. In 1959, they separated and a decade later divorced. Two years later Allan’s wife committed suicide. Then in 1977, he married Mariclare Costello, an actress. They gave birth to Arin Arbus.

Allan did photography for the American Army in 1940. Six year later, when he completed his service in the military, he and Diane started an advertising and photography business in Manhattan. Allan Arbus was famous for commercial photography that was published in renowned magazines, such as Vogue, Seventeen, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and in other publications. He also did a photographic project for Diane’s father’s store, Russek’s. Allan’s photography experience in the army provided him with the technical expertise and knowledge to produce great photographs and this familiarity helped him produce some unforgettable work for Russek’s.

A photograph by Allan and Diane was included in The Family of Man, a celebrated photography exposition by Edward Steichen. After this exhibition, the couple and their business soared. Diane was impressed and enthralled by her husband’s photography and did not waste any opportunity in learning the trade and techniques from Allan.

However, in 1956 the couple’s professional affiliation ended when Diane left their business in aspiration to work on her own personal assignments. Despite this break up in work, Allan continued with the business for a few years as an unaccompanied photographer. However, by 1969 his business didn’t do good and was closed.

Two things led Allan to leave the field of photography: 1) Allan and Diane’s breakup, and 2) their business dissolved. After photography, Allan’s next station was acting. His new career benefited highly from his role, in a cult movie in 1972 – Greaser’s Palace. A year later, he appeared in Scream, Pretty Peggy, alongside Bette Davis. In 1976, he was featured in W.C. Fields and Me by Gregory LaCava. In 1973, he had a guest appearance in Cinderella Liberty, and five years later in Coffy. Allan also played a role in Damien: Omen II in 1978.

Apart from appearing in MASH, he also acted in other series of television programs, such as L.A. Law, Judging Amy, Law and Order, Matlock, In the Heart of the Night, and Starsky and Hutch.

Although Allan was exceptionally good at photography but he finally realized that he is truly in love with acting. Perhaps it was the partnership of Allan and Diane that the two were really excited towards commercial photography and later on everything gradually changed when they stopped working together. Diane took up a style of photography that Allan was not comfortable with and feared to do it. Despite all the negativities, Allan found his true talent and lived a famed life.

Allan died from a failed heart on 19 April 2013 at the age of 95.


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