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Sidney Franklin Collection

Identifier: P-894

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents most richly in photographs Franklin’s bullfighting career from 1929 through the 1950s. There are photographs of Franklin performing in bullrings in Madrid, Seville and Valencia; posing with Spanish and Latin American matadors such as Julian Sainz, Luciano Contreras, and Cayetano Ordonez, who was the inspiration for the matador in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises; and recovering in the hospital after a goring.

There are no photos of Hemingway, but there is a photo of Franklin that Hemingway likely took, as well as a photo of an inscribed rhinoceros foot memento Hemingway gave to Franklin in 1933 (Folder 11). Many photos are of Franklin with famous personalities: Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., during the filming of The Black Pirate in 1926; Paulette Goddard in 1932; Eddie Cantor on the set of The Kid from Spain with copies of Death in the Afternoon in 1932; Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. in Paris, 1933; Jack Dempsey and a crowd of men in a restaurant in 1936.

The audio recordings include Franklin talking with his mother about music and singing together with several family members in 1946.

The 2001 film proposal by Franklin’s niece, Eve Frumkin, and Allan Corwin, focuses on questions of Franklin’s sexuality and his relationship with Hemingway.

In addition there are clippings about Franklin’s accomplishments and a copy of his 1952 autobiography, Bullfighter from Brooklyn: The Amazing Autobiography of Sidney Franklin.


  • 1922-1976, 1987, 2001-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1922 - 1958


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Sidney Franklin was born on July 11, 1903 and raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, by Russian Orthodox Jewish parents, Abram and Lubba Frumkin. His father was a patrolman for the New York Police Department. Sidney attended P.S. 10 and three years at Commercial High School in Brooklyn, before dropping out. While in school he was attracted to visual and performance arts. He dabbled in acting and took on the last name Franklin, after Benjamin Franklin, as his stage name, allegedly in order to skirt his disapproving father’s attention.

In 1922, after a violent dispute with his father, Franklin ran away to Mexico City, where within a year the well-known Mexican matador, Rodolfo Gaona, was grooming Franklin for the bullring. Franklin’s debut bullfight was in September 1923 in Mexico City. His Spanish debut was in June 1929. Franklin, known as “El Yanqui,” was at the height of his bullfighting career in the early 1930s and in the years following World War II, making appearances at bullrings in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia and Panama. He survived a number of gorings; the last goring, in Juarez, Mexico, in 1959, brought his ring performances to an end.

Ernest Hemingway and Franklin met in August 1929, quickly developing a close friendship which would last until a falling out in 1937 while they traveled in Spain as correspondents for the North American News Alliance during the Spanish Civil War. Franklin was a subject in and source for Hemingway's non-fiction book on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon.

In the 1950s Franklin led a bullfighting school outside of Seville and managed a café in Seville. After an automobile registration violation which landed him in jail for nine months, he returned to the United States in 1958. As far as his personal life is concerned, according to his biographer, Bart Paul, Franklin led a closeted gay life. Following 1958 he resided in Texas and Mexico, until spending the last seven years of his life in the Village Nursing Home in Manhattan, where he died on April 26, 1976.


Ivry, Benjamin. "‘Ai No Corrida’ Sidney Franklin, the Brooklyn Bullfighter." The Forward. February 17, 2010. Accessed May 10, 2010 from:

Paul, Bart. Double-Edged Sword: The Many Lives of Hemingway's Friend, the American Matador Sidney Franklin. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, 2009.

Ross, Lillian. “El Unico Matador III.” The New Yorker. March 26, 1949, p. 32-56.

“Sidney Franklin, 72, Dies; Matador from Brooklyn.” New York Times. May 2, 1976. Box 1, Folder 3.


1.7 Linear Feet (1 half manuscript box, plus several oversized folders and museum object. One photo treated for damage located in special box in photo collection. )

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian



This collection is comprised of materials related to the Brooklyn-born, gay, Jewish bullfighter, Sidney Franklin (1903-1976), who is also known for his close friendship with Ernest Hemingway. The bulk of the collection are photographs of Franklin performing in the bullring, or posing with Spanish and Latin American matadors or famous Americans such as Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Paulette Goddard, Jack Dempsey and Eddie Cantor. There are also audio recordings of Franklin, a film proposal, clippings and a copy of Franklin’s autobiography.


This collection has been arranged in three sections: General, Photographs and Museum.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

This collection was originally received by AJHS in two accessions. The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) donated the first accession to AJHS on May 7, 2009 (accession #2010.012). MCNY does not have a record of who originally donated the collection, but they received it some time prior to 2006. The creators of the first accession were likely Sidney Franklin’s elder brother Milton Frumkin, and his other brother Henry’s daughter, Evalyn (Eve) Frumkin-Ehrlich, who died in 2003. The second accession (#2010.027) was donated to AJHS on September 20, 2010 by DorisAnn Kolodny-Markowitz, the daughter of Franklin’s sister, Helen Frumkin-Kolodny. A third accession was added June 13, 2013 when DorisAnn Kolodny-Markowitz donated two original drawings (one by Sidney Franklin of a matador and bull and one by Barnaby Conrad of Franklin, signed by Conrad in 1944 and autographed by Conrad to Kolodny-Markowitz in 1986) and five hangers used by Franklin for his bullfighting outfits. Accessions 2013.010.01 to 2013.010.03. A fourth accession of Barnaby Conrad postcards and correspondence from a California bullfigthing admirers club added to the collection, accession 2022.001.

Digitization Note

Box 1 Folders 4-5, 7-8, 10 and 12-19 have been digitized as part of an ongoing digitization-on-demand program at the Center for Jewish History.

Related Material

Correspondence from Sidney Franklin and photographs of Franklin can be found in the Ernest Hemingway Papers at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration, Boston, MA.

Physical Description

1 oversized box, 1 oversized folder (Museum Collection), and 5 objects (Museum Collection)

Processing Information

In May 2010, the first accession was processed by Rachel Miller, an archivist on the Center for Jewish History's Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative. In November 2010, Miller integrated the second accession into the collection and revised the arrangement and finding aid. In November 2013 the third accession was added to the Museum Collection by Senior Archivist at the American Jewish Historical Society, Tanya Elder.

Guide to the Sidney Franklin Collection, 1922-1976, 1987, 2001-2010
Processed by Rachel Miller as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
© 2010.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from SidneyFranklin2.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2010, 2013, 2015: Revisions: Finding aid was updated by Rachel Miller.
  • May 5, 2017: Tanya Elder added links to objects in the Museum Collection to finding aid.
  • November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.
  • June 2022: TElder: Reorganized collection from flat file to half manuscript box; removed three glass albums to AVC collection; rehoused oversized photos into oversized folders.
  • June 2022: TElder: addition accessioned material from DorisAnn Markowitz.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States