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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1792

Russell Ball photographs

Includes black-and-white portrait photographs of film actors from the 1920s by Russell Ball.


  • circa 1920-1930

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


.33 linear feet

Includes black-and-white photographs of film actors, both portraits (including some with their families and pets) and film stills, by Russell Ball in the 1920s, when he was working in Los Angeles, California, and working as a freelance photographer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and other film production companies. Some of the images were created as film stills and include Gloria Swanson in “Zaza,” Tom Meighan in “The Alaskan,” and Rudolph Valentino in “The Son of the Sheik.”

Biographical / Historical

Russell Earp Ball was born 1891 March 24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ball began his career as a photographer working for newspapers, and then became a commercial photographer. In the 1920s, Ball relocated to Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Gladys Hall, and focused his photographic work in the film industry, including portraits of actors and their families and photographic stills for film production companies. In 1923, he photographed Gloria Swanson to promote the film “Zaza,” and took photographs early in the 1920s of actor Rudolph Valentino and his first wife, Jean Acker. He began working for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925, and it was during this period that he took many film stills and portraits of actors. He opened his own gallery in Beverly Hills in the late 1920s, where he continued to create portraits of celebrities and wealthy patrons. He died 1942 June 12.


Arranged in alphabetical order by the surname of the principal subject of the portrait. In group portraits, the first subject inscribed on the mat has been considered the principal subject.

Physical Location

pfd (P1.C1.02.14 [Folders 1-33])

Custodial History

Gift of John G. Heinz and Frank J. Heinz, 1973 December 12.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of John G. Heinz and Frank J. Heinz, 1973 December 12.

Processing Information

Processed by Betts Coup, 2018 May.
Link to catalog
Ball, Russell. Russell Ball photographs, circa 1920-1930 (MS Thr 1792): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2018 May 01
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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