"Robert Capa" Ruth Orkin (1952)
Yesterday I posted my ode to Robert Capa in honour of the 100th anniversary of his birth. One thing I forgot to mention (wait, you ask, there’s something you left out of that rather large post?) was that although I know what Capa looked like, I’ve always wished I could hear his voice. As a fan of silent movies, I’ve had this same wish before with stars who never made it to the talkies (Olive Thomas being the one I would most like to hear). I knew Capa would have a Hungarian accent but beyond that I could only guess as no one had ever found any recordings of his voice. That is, until now.
The International Center of Photography (ICP), which houses the Robert Capa Archives, announced yesterday that a recording of a radio interview with Capa had surfaced on eBay (their chief curator, Brian Wallis, discovered the interview listed with a starting bid of 99 cents!) and that they had purchased it. Even better, they had uploaded the interview to their site for everyone to enjoy.
The recording took place on October 20, 1947, when Capa appeared on the popular radio morning show “Hi! Jinx” to promote the release of his war memoir Slightly Out of Focus. Entitled “Bob Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad,” the interview is absolutely wonderful to listen to with the show’s married hosts, Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary, appearing to have an easy rapport with Capa, especially McCrary who starts off by telling Capa he can’t talk with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
Capa’s wit and humour come through in the interview in which he discusses his recent trip to Russia with John Steinbeck, the critical response to his book, and, maybe most importantly, explains how he came to take the photo known as “The Falling Soldier,” the only time that he spoke of his most controversial image. He also, reluctantly, talks about how he got his American-sounding name and makes a blatant plug for listeners to buy his book.
As for what his voice sounds like? He has a heavy accent and mixes some words up (friends said he spoke "Capanese") but who cares? It’s likable and warm and pure Capa. I love it.
So thank you ICP for sharing. If you want to hear for yourself the only recording of Capa’s voice, visit the ICP's site here.