Banner

Conclusion:  Laughead Photographers, Dallas, Texas

There is a preponderance of evidence showing that Laughead Photographers, Jim Laughead and Brad Bradley, were the only photographers of the players featured on 1962 Post cereal football cards.

Publication references

On August 1, 1962, the Detroit Free Press ran the following story about Laughead Photographers picture day with the Lions the day before.  It states unequivocally that “cereal” paid the NFL players pension fund $50,000 for the right to use the players likenesses and that Laughead was the photographer of the pictures on those cards.

In his 1964 Sports Illustrated piece, Edwin "Bud" Shrake wrote of Jim Laughead: "Included in his files are color photographs of major league baseball and professional football players, shot to decorate bubble-gum cards and the backs of cereal boxes."

Post was the only company that produced football cards on cereal boxes during this time period.

Tang team photos

General Foods was the parent company of Post cereal.  Cards on the backs of cereal boxes were the major part of General Foods’ 1962 football promotion, but another part was team pictures offered as a Tang breakfast drink send away offer.  For 50 cents and a seal from the top of a Tang jar, one could have a set of all 14 NFL team pictures.  The team photos were taken in late August 1962 through the middle of September at each team’s training camp facility.  Tang photos were taken by Laughead Photography as Brad Bradley told me previously that he and Mr. Laughead split territories—Bradley traveling east and Laughead going west.

It seems logical that General Foods did not just pull the Laughead Photographers name out of a hat to do the Tang photos.  It is most probable that the Tang team photo project was part of the larger General Foods promotion for which Laughead was contracted as photographer. The fact that Laughead Photographers did all 14 Tang team photos lends credibility to the idea that Laughead also did all 14 teams for the Post cereal card set.

Post – Salada – Philadelphia Gum connections

Eleven of the 14 NFL teams featured in the Post cereal set were also displayed in the Salada Tea-Junket Deserts coin set of 1962.  It has been shown that photos of all eleven teams in the Salada set were taken in the same place on the same day as the Post cereal cards.  Further, Sports Collectors Digest reported that Jim Laughead sold the Salada photos to the company.  The three NFL teams not included in the Salada set were the Cowboys, Cardinals and Vikings.  All three are teams that were shot at more than one venue for the Post set.  All three also have players not in alphabetic order sequence within the Post set.  It appears there was some sort of problem locating enough “extra” photos after Post cereal received their player photos for these three teams that Salada decided to use three AFL teams in their place.  Laughead Photographers was known to have shot the New York Titans and Buffalo Bills in the early 1960s.  The other team was the Boston Patriots.  Those teams' coins all look to have been colorized from black and white photos.  If Laughead Photographers supplied these photos for Salada, they would likely have come from black and white prints—Laughead’s primary medium.  Neither Salada Tea nor Junket Deserts was a division of General Foods.  The probability that Salada received any of the photographs from Post seems very low, adding credibility to the Sports Collectors Digest account that Jim Laughead sold the pictures directly to Salada.  If more than one photographer had been involved in shooting Post cereal cards, there would also have to have been the same photographers at each Salada photo session as well.  It is almost impossible to believe that anyone other than Laughead Photographers shot the Post and Salada photos.

One last point of connection between Salada and Post cereal photos is the known photos of 1964 Philadelphia Gum cards also used for 1962 Salada coins.  Laughead Photographers could have supplied the photos to Philadelphia Gum as they also supplied them to Salada.  This being the case, the photo of Charley Johnson in St. Louis that appears to have been taken at the same time as the Post cereal photos of Gautt, Wilson, Henke and Guglielmi indicates that even these seemingly non-conforming pictures could well have been Laughead products. 

Style


Post cereal photos are extremely uniform in their appearance, from the angle of each shot to the “Huck ‘n Buck” movements used on the majority of the cards.  Each team is photographed in the same style.  It would seem that only Laughead Photographers could capture the inimitable Laughead style.

Consistency

Post produced baseball cards from 1961-63.  For that promotion, they used one photographer—Art Shay.  Post was particular about the artwork for their cards.  It would seem out of character for them to have used different art production methods for the baseball and football promotions.  In fact, the 1962 baseball and football productions bear many similarities, including the same brands of cereals on which they placed cards, which panels were double printed on matching separate brands and which cereals had the number of cards on the back reduced from six to five or five to four.

Photo evidence

In each picture, Post cereal proof photos show standard chalk marks used by Laughead Photographers to designate the shooting area.  This would seem to indicate the same photographer was present at each photo site.  Only Laughead Photographers is known to have been at more than one site.

The doubt caused by the belief that the camera angle used for the Post cereal pictures was reasonably dispelled with the discovery of the Green Bay picture day postcard showing Laughead shooting well above the ground. In other cases, like the photograph of Laughead shooting John Morrow, it would be strictly conjecture whether the camera angle was correct or not as the slope of the ground is unknown and would therefore be unable to be factored into the equation. While I'd like to believe that the Morrow photo is the exact moment that Laughead snapped John's Post cereal photo, one can never know for certain. It's quite possible he took other photos of Morrow from above the ground.

Though the majority of Laughead's photographs from the time were black and white, he definitely was known to have also used color film. Magazines and media covers were two of the ways this was demonstrated.

Mystery photo seller

What of the man with approximately 120 proof photos who portrayed himself to Michael Gidwitz as the Post cereal photographer sometime in the 1980s? We know he at least had photos of Packers and Bears players as evidenced by Gidwitz' purchase of proof photos of Jerry Kramer, Max McGee and Johnny Morris. And that's all we know for sure. The "photographer" could have had a connection with a onetime Post cereal employee that provided the proof photos or maybe was himself a former employee. Maybe Gidwitz misunderstood or the mystery seller overstated his role. The story is an interesting side note, but that is the extent of what is known. Maybe a reader will someday shed more light on this subject. As of now, there isn't any evidence that this mystery photo seller was the Post cereal photographer.

* 2018 update concerning Post cereal photo origins:

The three Post cereal photos owned by Michael Gidwitz were purchased early in 2018. The buyer relayed that Michael Gidwitz remembered that he purchased the photos from a Chicago based collector in the late 1970s or sometime in the 1980s at a large card show in the Chicago area. There were others buyers also, but ultimately the bulk of the purported 120-130 photos were auctioned a couple of times, the latest time by Legendary Auctions in 2012 included a group of around 80 different photos.

When Gidwitz originally provided details of the photo transaction in which he obtained Kramer, McGee and Morris, he wrote that the seller said he was the Post cereal photgrapher. The latest details he provided in 2018 indicate the seller was a Chicago collector. This would seem to more likely be the case as at least some of the photos themselves possibly provide a clue. The photos of #131 Mike Sandusky, #132 George Tarasovic and #145 Jerry Tubbs that were auctioned together as part of the Legendary group from 2012 all contain rows of (now) purple dots created by what looks to be a felt tip pen that probably was blue in 1962. The idea here is that someone in the Post art department or a graphics company intentionally placed the dot pattern on the lower half of the left side of the three photos—either doodling out of boredom during a meeting or as a way to mark certain parts of the photo for some unknown production purpose. In either case, there were marks placed on the photos. It seems to make no sense that somebody would have put the dots on the photos after they left Post's or a graphics company's possesion. Certainly no photographer would have dotted the pictures before sending them to Post, thus eliminating the possibility that the "photographer" was the seller that Gidwitz purchased the photos from at the Chicago show. The photos apparently were ones actually used by Post in the various stages of producing the 1962 football cards. Certainly none were used on pasteboards as panel mockups, but they are copies that very likely were cut from sheets that did contain the actual photos used on pasteboards.