Like many a success story, it all started as a joke:
Beginning in the years following the Second World War, Phil Stern worked as a celebrity photographer. While on the job, he would carry with him a copy of the Forverts, and ask his subjects to pose with it. He produced an initial photograph as a favor to a colleague, Hollywood publicist Dave Golding, whose father, max Golding, was foreman of the composing room of the Forward. Over the years Stern sent the portraits to the Forward’s composing room, where they were pinned to the bulletin board, much to the delight of the workers.
What began as a lark became a three decade obsession for Stern, who always kept a copy of the newspaper handy and ready for any opportunity to stage a shot of an unlikely celebrity reader. In time a unique collection of photographs emerged. Only one of his subjects was Jewish and none of them could read Yiddish. Nonetheless they form a unique caricature of Hollywood stars with the “icon” of Yiddish in America – The Forvets.