Walter Thornton Background

Goals

Determine who was "Walter Thornton," the name given to a man appearing in a famous photo of Black Tuesday in 1929, including his background, what happened to him after the photo, and if Walter Thornton was his real name.

Early Findings

Photo Background

  • According to writing on the postcard version of this image, Walter Thornton was a bankrupt investor affected by the Great Depression.
  • He was selling his year-old luxury roadster, a Chrysler Imperial 75 Roadster, for $100. It would have retailed for $1,555 at the time.
  • The photo demonstrates the soaring rise and dramatic fall of the American stock market and has been widely circulated as a result.
  • The photo was taken in New York where Thornton was an investor on the New York Stock Exchange.

Walter Thornton

  • The same year Walter Thornton was shown selling his luxury roadster in New York, he started a soon-to-be renowned modeling agency.
  • Among the accomplishments of Thornton's agency was the creation of the pinup model for soldiers stationed overseas.
  • Thornton's great niece, Donna Tanner of Chillicothe, Ohio, recently connected with Thornton's daughters in southern California regarding their connection (as Thornton's half sister lived in Chillicothe her entire life).
  • Tanner is seen here holding up the photo of Thornton. She heard stories about him her entire life through her family that established the chronology of his appearance in the photo and the beginnings of his modeling agency career.
  • The local paper confirms the connection with a photo of Thornton appearing on the front page when he visited his half-sister (after establishing the modeling agency).


Summary of Early Findings in Relation to Goals

The first hour of research involved outlining the project to determine if the requested information is available. After cross-verifying public sources (including contemporary newspapers), the research team found reliable sources connecting the Walter Thornton described in the famous photograph with the man who founded the renowned modeling agency.

The research team can continue to provide the requested information about Walter Thornton as desired.

Proposed next steps:

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