The famous bullfighter who came from Park Slope

Plenty of A-list actors, comics, and ball players hail from Brooklyn. But a matador?

His given name was Sidney Frumkin, born in 1903 to Jewish immigrant parents who lived on tiny Jackson Place off 16th Street near Seventh Avenue.

After a fight with his tough police officer father, 19-year-old Sidney, a dropout from Brooklyn Commercial High School, took off for Mexico.

There, on more or less a whim, he sought out a star matador and asked him to teach him to fight.

He renamed himself Sidney Franklin and impressed the crowd at his first fight, in Mexico City in 1923. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was one of the world’s top matadors.

He counted bullfighting fan Ernest Hemingway as a friend. ”Sidney Franklin is brave, with a cold, serene and intelligent valor,” Hemingway wrote in Death in the Afternoon, according to this 1999 New York Times piece.

”No history of bullfighting that is ever written can be complete unless it gives him the space he is entitled to.”

After decades of winning (and getting pretty seriously gored), Franklin retired in 1959 and returned to the U.S.

Franklin died in obscurity in the Village Nursing Home on Hudson Street at 72.

[Above, the cover of his autobiography, published in 1952]

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3 Responses to “The famous bullfighter who came from Park Slope”

  1. Alice K. Small Says:

    I am Sidney Franklin’s (nee Frumkin) niece and I’d love to talk to you. I will be happy to call you if you supply a phone number via email.

    • D. Benatar Says:

      Ms Small,

      There are many rumors of not only being a great Matador but a man of great other kinds of bravery. During his life as a Bullfighter, Franklin (nee Frumkin)’s time include he and Hemingway during the Spanish civil war transporting medical supplies to Moving persons at great risk (Many artists , writers, painters, political thinkers and the like, around Hitler’s war torn Europe by simply being a member of hie entourage. I would love to know if this is true.

      I’ve been a film maker for 30 years and feel that this is a story that needs to be told

  2. ivy Says:

    Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklynology blog also did a piece on Frumkin/Franklin: http://brooklynology.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/post/2011/11/14/The-bullfighter-from-the-South-Slope.aspx

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