Skip to content

New York Street Photos In The ’70s: The Original Opera Guy?

Remember Adam Sandler’s Saturday Night Live recurring character, Opera Man? Rumor has it he was inspired by a legendary New York City street singer, Larry Danzinger. I sorta knew Larry. Larry usually sang opera very expressively (not sure how good he was in the vocal department) in midtown. He was usually a few steps away from Carnegie Hall, although I often saw him on 6th Avenue. He had a canteen attached to his belt and held a metal cup for people to throw in money.

I’d said hello when passing him enough times that he started to recognize me. One day I asked and  he allowed me to hang out and take a bunch of pictures of him performing. I present a few from that session here.

Larry Danzinger


I was thinking about doing a book about New York street people until one day when I found Street People, by Janet Beller, sitting on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. It’s a good book…you can get it here: And there was Larry…as well as several others who I’d photographed. She did it first.

Ironically, in 1974, Janet was the photography counselor at the Fiedel Day Camp in Glen Cove, LI, and I was her assistant. Great minds think alike!

Next: The Cat Man of Central Park