He also loved the adoration of the crowd, raving that, “All the sexes throw themselves at you,” according to Mr. Paul.
Light skinned with reddish hair, Mr. Franklin was a raconteur who relished being the center of attention. For all his grace in the ring, he retained his unvarnished Brooklyn accent, but could also switch seamlessly to Yiddish or various dialects of Spanish, his niece said.
When the issue of death was raised, he scoffed and said, “Death, shmeth,” according to The New Yorker article.
Today, bullfighting has significantly diminished in popularity and is banned in many countries, largely because of the cruelty toward the bulls. But it was in its heyday in Spain when Mr. Franklin arrived in 1929, with top matadors, like him, devoutly revered.
It was there that he met Hemingway and they became good friends and traveling companions.
In his acclaimed nonfiction book on bullfighting “Death in the Afternoon,” Hemingway describes Mr. Franklin as being “brave with a cold, serene and intelligent valor” and “one of the most skillful, graceful and slow manipulators of a cape fighting today.”
Mr. Franklin claimed to have killed thousands of bulls during his career, and had been gored numerous times, which afflicted him until he died penniless at age 72 in a nursing home in Greenwich Village.
Ms. Markowitz said some people found it strange that before he entered the ring in Spain, Catholic nuns used to pray over her uncle — a gay, Jewish bullfighter from Brooklyn.