The purpose of this blog, besides amusing myself and helping to keep me off the streets, is to inform, entertain, and add to the historical record, regarding the work and life of Jean Shepherd. In 2006 I decided that it would be interesting to pursue an idea I wrote of in Excelsior, You Fathead! regarding the many faces of Shep–with the idea of suggesting that the never-to-be-fully-resolved enigma that is Jean Shepherd might have been made manifest–at least superficially–by the curious multiple ways he presented himself to the world through his changes of face over the years.
I put together
a loose-leaf book of images
In EYF! I’d quoted from a broadcast of his:
I might as well tell you the truth about this thing. There is no Jean Shepherd. Jean Shepherd is a composite name. It’s an entertainment concept and there’s actually a stable of Jean Shepherds.
This tongue-in-cheek comment of his, like much humor, may reveal some truth. Much more along these lines can be found in one of the opening chapters of EYF! titled, “Foibles: The Real Jean Shepherd.”
Also, in “Summing Up to a Boodle-am Shake,” my book’s recapitulation chapter, a section is titled “The Many Faces of Jean Shepherd: A Metaphor?” I introduce a written description of some of his guises thusly:
Complementing the many-sided and often self-contradictory aspects of Shepherd’s stories, biography, and persona were the many faces he presented to the world over the years. Examining photos may yield some clues to the real Jean Shepherd.
From a rough paste-up I also did,
here are a few of his faces:
And, yes, it’s more than just the facial hair!
He may have been searching for his real self. He may have wished that he could have remained as he had been during the youthful and innovative days of “Great Burgeoning” in New York–on the mountaintop around 1956.
Author photo on the back jacket of
In God We Trust–All Others Pay Cash,
published in 1966–one might wonder why
he used this ten-year-old photo from 1956.
(Also used for the VW booklet think small © 1967.)
Another 1956 photo, a little-known,
wonderful image by Roy Schatt, who also took
the “Frederick R. Ewing” photo of Shep
for the back cover of I, Libertine.
The photo here probably taken at the same time as the author photo above it–note shirt and the background wood paneling. Curiously, neither of the images of Shepherd–for IGWT and for I, Libertine–both by Schatt, have any photo credits.
Here below is another photo, taken by Fred W. McDarrah at the same photo-shoot as that of the iconic Shep poster shot of 1966. McDarrah sent Jim Clavin a copy of it years back and he has it on http://www.flicklives.com
Apropos of varied photos of Shep,
here it is, Shepherd raising both hands–
in exaltation perhaps?
Note that in his right hand, he delicately holds
the end of the word