Nat King Cole photograph collection

Collection Data

The collection depicts aspects of the personal life and professional career of singer, musician and actor Nat King Cole, from the 1930s to the 1960s, and his wife, singer Maria Cole, from the 1940s to the 1990s, as well as the lives of their children Carole, Natalie, Kelly, Timolin and Casey, mainly from the 1940s to the early 1970s. The collection, much of which is contained in photo albums and scrapbooks, consists of studio and group portraits of Cole and his family, including publicity photographs of Nat, Maria and Carole; candid shots of Nat and Maria Cole at home, attending events, and during tours; candid shots of the Cole children during family activities and social gatherings; portraits of Nat and Maria's families; group portraits and views showing Nat with other entertainers and celebrities; views of concerts, recording sessions and press conferences; views of public ceremonies and tributes; views of wedding ceremonies and receptions; film and television stills; and views of tour stops and fans. The collection also consists of news clippings and ephemera items, such as report cards and correspondence, attached to scrapbook pages. Depictions of Carole Cole's acting career are limited; Natalie Cole's singing career and Kelly Cole's acting career are not depicted.The Personal series, 1930s-1990s, consists of sub-series depicting Nat Cole, Maria Cole, and the Cole children. This series contains scrapbooks and photo albums depicting Cole family events and milestones, including wedding photographs. The series consists of studio portraits and candid shots of Nat, Maria and the children, individually and collectively; portraits of other family members including Nat's parents; views of social gatherings, parties, contests and recitals; views of the Cole home and their dogs; views of wedding ceremonies and receptions; views of tributes and press dinners; stills from a television tribute; and views of baseball teams. Of note are the wedding album and scrapbook depicting primarily Nat and Maria's wedding reception at the Belmont Plaza hotel in New York City (1948); views of Nat with the Hollywood All-Stars, a charity baseball team that he coached (1960); views of Maria Cole and attendees to a Nat King Cole tribute held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills, to benefit cancer research (1972); publicity photographs and press clippings of Carole Cole's acting career (1965-1970); views of Natalie Cole's music recital (1960); and the wedding album of Timolin Cole and Gary Augustus (1992).The Professional series, 1930s-1960s, depicts the musical and acting career of Nat Cole. This series contains scrapbooks and photo albums depicting international singing tours and highlighting Cole's career. This series consists of studio portraits of Cole and group portraits showing Cole with his sidemen, fellow actors or performers, some of which may have been used for publicity purposes; views of Cole singing during tours or individual engagements; views of Cole during press conferences and official gatherings, sometimes accompanied by Maria; views of recording sessions; and publicity photographs and stills from film and television productions. Of note are group portraits with Cole and the different line-ups of his Nat Cole Trio (1938-1950); photo albums and scrapbooks depicting his 1956 tours of Australia and New Zealand, and his 1959 goodwill tour of South America; stills and publicity photos from the films "China Gate" (1956) and "St. Louis Blues" (1958); and his meeting Queen Elizabeth II after his Royal Command Performance (1960).The Maria Cole series, 1940s-1960s, depicts primarily the singing career of Maria Cole, consisting of publicity photographs of Maria; views and candid shots of singing engagements; views of recording sessions; and television stills. Of note are a publicity photograph of Maria as Maria Ellington, with Joya Sherrill and Kay Davis, as singers for Duke Ellington (ca. 1944); candid shots and views from her singing comeback performance at Ciro's nightclub, Hollywood, California (1955); and television stills of her performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" (1966) and her co-hosting a television talk show, Tempo, in Los Angeles (ca. 1967). Also included are snapshots of her first husband, Spurgeon Ellington, and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen (ca. 1943-1944).
Cole, Nat King, 1919-1965 (Collector)
Ball, Herb (Photographer)
Happel, J. Peter (Photographer)
Marcel, Jean Marie (Photographer)
Ragsdale, Robert C. (Photographer)
Randolph, William, 1920-1978 (Photographer)
Rose, Harry (Photographer)
Sutton, David (Photographer)
Thompson, Brenda Saul (Photographer)
Capitol Records, Inc. (Production company)
Foto Emrico (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) (Photographer)
Garrett-Howard (Los Angeles, Calif.) (Photographer)
Las Vegas News Bureau (Photographer)
Matthews' News and Photo Agency (London, England) (Photographer)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1938 - 1996 (Questionable)
Library locations
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division
Shelf locator: Sc Photo Nat King Cole Collection
Cole, Nat King, 1919-1965
Cole, Nat King, 1919-1965 -- Performances -- 1940-1969
Cole, Maria, 1922-2012
Cole, Natalie, 1950-2015
Cole, Carole, 1944-2009 -- Performances -- 1960-1979
Cole, Nat Kelly, 1959-1995
King Cole Trio
African American singers
African American musicians
African American actors
African American families -- California -- Los Angeles
Entertainers -- United States
African Americans -- Social life -- 1940-1999
African Americans -- Domestic life -- 1940-1999
Children's parties -- 1950-1969
Concerts -- 1940-1969
Celebrity touring -- Brazil -- 1950-1959
Celebrity touring -- Latin America -- 1950-1959
Celebrity touring -- Europe -- 1950-1969
Celebrity touring -- Australasia -- 1950-1959
Receptions -- 1940-1999
Sound recordings -- 1940-1989
Weddings -- 1940-1999
Portrait photographs
Group portraits
Publicity photographs
Film stills
Television stills
Content: Title was taken from the Nat King Cole Papers.
Content: Many photographs bear photographer's or photography studio's hand stamp on verso; some items bear photographer's or photography studio's name printed on recto; some items bear photographer's blind stamp; some items bear photographer's signature on recto.
Content: Some items bear handwritten captions on verso; some items bear handwritten captions on recto. Some items bear typewritten or printed caption labels attached to verso; some items bear printed caption labels on recto. Some items bear cropping marks; some items are cropped. Some items show wear or damage. Some items are duplicates.
Content: Many items are attached to or encased within photo albums or scrapbooks. Some scrapbook pages are loose. Many photo albums and scrapbooks bear either handwritten captions on pages or typewritten caption labels attached to pages. Some items are in souvenir mattes. Some items are mounted.
Content: Collection contains work by Capitol Records, Emrico, J. Peter Happel, Garrett-Howard, Matthews' News and Photo, Popsie and David Sutton, among others.
Biographical/historical: Nat King Cole, 1919-1965, was an African American pianist, singer and actor who, after establishing himself as a jazz musician with his King Cole Trio during the 1940s, emerged as a popular singer from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Major hit recordings included "Mona Lisa" (1950) and "Unforgettable" (1951). In 1956-57, Cole was the first black performer to have his own network television series. He also appeared in motion pictures, including "St. Louis Blues" (1958) and "Cat Ballou" (1965). Cole died after battling cancer in 1965. Maria Cole, 1922-2012, was a jazz singer, notably with Duke Ellington, during the mid-1940s, when she met and married Cole in 1948. She revived her singing career in 1955, and was a talk show host in Los Angeles during the late 1960s. During her later life Cole supported charities and cancer research work. She died from cancer in 2012. Carole Cole, 1944-2009, was a stage, film and television actress during the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1991, became CEO and producer at King Cole Productions, supervising her father's recorded legacy. Natalie Cole, born 1950, is a successful urban contemporary and popular music singer, producer and actress.
Content: Forms part of the Nat King Cole Papers, 1910-1996.
Physical Description
Gelatin silver prints
Dye coupler prints
Extent: 1912 items (6.2 cubic ft., 11 boxes; 13 photo albums and scrapbooks)
Extent: 530 photographic prints :gelatin silver, black and white, some hand colored ;26 x 21 cm and smaller.
Extent: 646 photographic prints :gelatin silver, black and white ;21 x 26 cm and smaller.
Extent: 97 photographic prints :gelatin silver, black and white ;36 x 28 cm and smaller.
Extent: 145 photographic prints :color ;30 x 22 cm and smaller.
Extent: 59 contact sheets :gelatin silver, black and white ;26 x 21 cm and smaller.
Extent: 15 instant camera prints :color, some black and white ;9 x 11 cm and smaller.
Extent: 3 photomechanical prints :black and white ;29 x 24 cm and smaller.
Extent: 2 photographic postcards :gelatin silver, black and white ;14 x 9 cm
Extent: 18 transparencies :color ;25 x 21 cm and smaller.
Extent: 3 postcards :color ;16 x 23 cm and smaller.
Extent: 48 clippings :color, some black and white ;42 x 32 cm and smaller.
Extent: 39 ephemera :printed programs, correspondence, report cards, collage and awards ;37 x 25 cm and smaller.
Extent: 1 printing plate :metal ;11 x 14 cm
Organized into three series: I. Personal photographs, 1930s-1990s; II. Professional activities, 1930s-1960s; III. Maria Cole, 1940s-1960s.
Type of Resource
Still image
RLIN/OCLC: 890046434
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20289964
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 1bc9f300-e51b-013a-35d8-0242ac110003
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