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]