Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Estrellita Karsh

Estrellita Karsh, 1970

Estrellita Karsh celebrates her birthday today, January 19. Estrellita was a successful medical writer and historian when she met Yousuf Karsh in 1961. Karsh wrote:

“It was a congenial medical office – one that always made me think of my original desire to be a physician – which provided the setting for Estrellita Nachbar, the gifted medical writer and historian who was to become my wife. I was in Chicago photographing her employer and mentor, one of America’s most distinguished physicians, Dr. Walter C. Alvarez. He was then bringing to millions of readers, through his syndicated column, the reassuring clinical wisdom and compassion that had made him a beloved and world-famous diagnostician at the Mayo Clinic. Estrellita had been Dr. Alvarez’s editor for some years, using her extensive literary and medical background to make difficult scientific concepts exciting and readable to the layman, and collaborating with the doctor on his current best sellers. As Newsweek whimsically put it when reporting our marriage in 1962, “Something else clicked beside the shutter.” With our marriage, at which Dr. Alvarez gave away the bride, we blended our worlds, each adding a new dimension to the other. With her editorial ability Estrellita helped me to formulate my thoughts. She also brought her organizational skills to planning trips and schedules so that work was always complemented by new discoveries. On all our travels over the years – whether to Zululand, to Japan, to Russia, to Finland, to Scandinavia, to Egypt – we have pursued our joint interests in archaeology, in art, in medicine. She has continued to write articles on medical history. I have often sat in the audience at her lectures, when her carefully concealed scholarship transforms research in old tomes into engaging and modern social history.”

Read more in our Brief Biography.

See the portrait of Dr. Alvarez.

See Yousuf and Estrellita Karsh’s wedding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.