Dr Henry William Frauenthal was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on 13 March 1862.1
He was the son of Samuel Frauenthal (1828-1922)2, a boot and shoe vendor, and Yetta3 Lowenstein (b. 1831), natives of Bavaria and Prussia respectively who had come to the USA around 1848.
Henry's known siblings were: Joseph (1850-1921), Fannie (b. 1852), Edward (1854-1922), Isidor (b. 1855), Rosa (b. 1858), Caroline (b. 1864), Herman Clay (1866-1942) and Isaac Gerald (1868-1932).
Henry first appears on the 1870 census when he and his family were still residents at an unspecified address in Wilkes-Barre.
He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in analytical chemistry in 1888 and it was while working as a chemist with the Rossie Iron Ore Company of Spragueville, New York that he studied medicine at Bellevue Hospital Medical College. He qualified as a doctor in 1890 and worked as partner to an orthopaedic surgeon for the next eleven years before entering private practice. Among his patients was actress Marie Dressler. He and his family later settled in Manhattan, New York, appearing there on the 1900 and 1910 censuses as residents of 783 Lexington Avenue.
In June 1909 Frauenthal applied for a US passport and was described as standing at 5' 8" and with a high forehead, reddish-brown hair and balding; brown eyes, a fair complexion and with a beard and moustache.
Dr Frauenthal's specific medical interest was the treatment of chronic joint diseases; in 1905 he had established a clinic to practice new treatments for these ailments and his techniques proved so successful that the clinic expanded and in 1908 and another building was added. In 1910 it was reported that he was among the pioneers of the use of colour photography for treatment and diagnoses of medical ailments:
Dr. Adolph Lorenz operating on an infantile paralysis case in New York. At the right is Dr. Henry W. Frauenthal, chief surgeon of the hospital. - San Bernardino Sun, 5 December 1921
"Color photography," said Dr Frauenthal, "is a boon to the medical profession. It enables the physician and the surgeon to have at their command the accurate record of great quantities of clinical material at a comparatively small cost. The best works on cancer, skin diseases and such maladies have been illustrated with engravings or lithographs made from hand-colored photographs..." - Los Angeles Herald, 23 July 1910
Having travelled aboard Olympic the previous August, Frauenthal applied for a US passport at the same time as his brother Isaac on 6 March 1912 with the intention of travelling abroad and returning by 30 April 1912. Then he was described as standing at 5' 8, with a high-bald forehead, reddish brown hair, brown eyes, a fair complexion, having a beard and moustache and have a strong chin and a Roman nose. On 26 March 1912, he married Clara Heinsheimer in Nice, France and just over two weeks later they boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers for their return journey to the United States (ticket number PC 17611 which cost £133, 13s). His brother Isaac joined them at Cherbourg.
Dr Frauenthal, his wife and brother were rescued after leaping into lifeboat 5. A large man—he reportedly weighed 250 pounds—Henry landed on top of Annie May Stengel and broke several of her ribs.
The San Francisco Call (19 April 1912) claims that Dr and Mrs Frauenthal were the first to disembark from the Carpathia at New York.
After their fortuitous escape Frauenthal returned to his hospital which held a reception for him to celebrate his survival. The hospital continued to grow and in 1914 a new building was erected and more than 48,000 treatments were given during its first year of operation. He was still travelling for work in the early 1920s and showcasing his expertise in California and Europe: in August 1925 he travelled to Britain aboard Aquitania and was described as a surgeon.
Both Dr Frauenthal and his wife suffered from mental health problems in later years. They both continued to travel and in the early 1920s lived in France briefly. At the time of his 1921 through 1925 passports they were residents of 160 West 59th Street, New York.
Henry and Clara in their 1921 passport photo
Despondent over his own poor physical health, in the early hours of 11 March 1927 Dr Frauenthal committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of his hospital building.
He was cremated on 14 March at Fresh Pond Crematory; as per his wishes his ashes were retained until 4 October 1955, the fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the institution he founded. His remains were scattered from the roof of his Madison Avenue Hospital on that date.
He left the bulk of his fortune, estimated at between $300,000 and $400,000, to the hospital. A residue of the estate was given to his sister Carrie and surviving brothers whilst his widow received no provision other than his personal effects.
Frauenthal's widow Clara entered a sanatorium shortly after his death, suffering from depression; she spent the rest of her life in this facility and died in 1943.