Sal Terracina, Italian/American (circa 1910 - 1995)

Italian-American pianist, mask maker, mind reader, and photographer. His multiple talents gave him access to an extraordinary range of subjects, from gangsters and speakeasies in the 1930s, and midgets and other performers in a burlesque troupe, World of Mirth, in the late 1940s, to Key West's gay scene. He also took theatrical photographs, and travelled and photographed worldwide for the Seafarers' International Union. He worked in black-and-white in a straight-on documentary style, mostly with a 4×5 in Speed Graphic. He left c.80, 000 negatives.

Sal, THE GREAT SALTAR, SAL TERRA and SAL TERRACINA.  Sal was booked as the world’s youngest mind reader in the late 1920’s through the late 1930’s. His name was in neon lights in three different clbs, New York, Chicago and New Jersey. Back in Chicago Sal worked for Lucky Lucianno. Luciano owned the Otis Beer Tunnel. Sal did his mind reading act and played the piano in 1931.
Sal had many talents, photography, pianist, Mask making artist. The list goes on and on. I thought his photography was amazing. He loved to take photos of people back then. You see he had an amazing life. He traveled around the world many times during world war II.  He worked for the Sea Farers Union as photographer. He really was under cover and worked for OSS. The was the CIA back then.
From the mid 30’s to his death in 1995 Sal had a photography/mask studio in Manhattan. He did over 1000 portfolio’s mostly actor wannabes. There are some that became famous, Gene Hackman, James Earl Jones, etc. If you saw their photo’s you will know who they were.
These portfolios had nothing to do with his true talent. Freezing the moment was his specialty. When Sal was traveling around the world he went behind the scenes, Cambodian opium dens, Haitian Voodoo huts and African jungles. I like his gangster street scenes and bar people from the 40’s and 50’s the most.

Sal even worked for the traveling carnival ‘The World of Mirth’ from 1949-1951; he was the mask maker, mind reader and photographer. These photos are wild, midget clowns, and burlesque. On top of all this, and there is more Sal was in the mob, the real mob right out of Elizabeth NJ, Supranoville. Sal even went to Rahway state prison for armed robbery. When he was in prison he ran a gang called the duel dagger gang. Sal had a tattoo of a dagger on each forearm. Imagine 18 years of booked as the worlds youngest mind reader and a gangster, what a story, I thought so, I wrote it. The Amazing Terracina – It took me six months of non-stop writing and editing.


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