Fête for Marilyn Monroe

“My agent Charles Block called to tell me that 20th Century Fox had a press call for a party that was to honor Marilyn Monroe, and he wanted me to cover it. Ray Anthony, the popular band leader, had written a song called Marilyn and there would no doubt be other celebrities to photograph.

Portrait of Marilyn Monroe at a party held in her honor by 20th Century Fox, 1952.

Portrait of Marilyn Monroe at a party held in her honor by 20th Century Fox, 1952.

I told him that I just didn’t feel this was my kind of photography, but the logic of his argument was too irresistible: ‘You need money to pay the bills, and anything you get on Monroe will sell!’

Reluctantly, I went. There were at least 50 other Hollywood photographers there, waiting for Marilyn to arrive. Fox had flown Marilyn from the studio to the party in a helicopter, hoping to make a dramatic entrance. As the chopper was landing, the downdraft blew all of the umbrellas, the sheet music from the orchestra, several ladies’ hats and God knows what into the pool. I was standing up above, laughing at this scene.

The photographers all rushed toward the landing helicopter, and I just stood where I was. And then an amazing thing happened: Marilyn walked right up to me, with all of the other photographers trailing behind her. For one very brief moment, I had her alone. It was probably the only single shot made of her like that, and it was just pure luck.

As I was about to take the photograph, and looking down at her through my reflex viewfinder, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising. Marilyn had some sort of energy field that it would seem she could switch on or off when she posed, which I don’t think I will ever see again. Hollywood’s publicity departments called it sex appeal and thought it was achieved by showing cleavage, but they missed the point. This attractive energy is something you are born with. It is there to see at any age. Some people have more, some less, and I prefer to call it gender.”



Chet Baker, Before the World Weighed Him Down

“In person, Chet Baker was quiet, and seemed rather shy. At least that’s what I felt when I covered one of his first recording sessions. His playing then was coming from somewhere inside of him, and his music stopped me short. I found it very hard to concentrate with the plaintive sound of his trumpet in my ear. Looking around the recording studio, it seemed to also touch everyone there. It was the only recording session that I’ve photographed where the other musicians applauded after a take. It was on My Funny Valentine.

As I was leaving I saw him sitting alone after the session was over. Most of the other musicians had left, and I had put away my cameras and was about to leave. The image of him sitting there like a lost child seemed to sum up my first impression about this talented young man from Oklahoma… alone within himself.

Chet’s life was one self-inflicted wound after another, and to see that haunted face in his later years was tragic. Here is the way I like to remember him, before the world weighed him down.”




Hello Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn photographed in the Portrait Gallery of Paramount by Bud Fraker, 1953.

Audrey Hepburn photographed in the Portrait Gallery of Paramount by Bud Fraker, 1953.

“Charlie Block at Globe Photos called me at home and told me that I was to go over to Paramount Studios to photograph another new actress. She had just finished a film in Italy called Roman Holiday, and would be at the studio to do publicity shots. Young actresses were an everyday thing, and this assignment didn’t especially thrill me. After all, I was now working for Harper’s Bazaar.

When I arrived at the studio, the still session with the Paramount portrait photographer Bud Fraker was already underway. When there was a moment and I was finally introduced to this new young lady, I was completely disarmed. I had anticipated she would be pretty, but she was really something else. She had poise and self-confidence.

A beauty, yes, maybe a forest elf would be more apt? I thought, ‘well, here is someone special!’ I wasn’t the only one that felt this. I could see the way the crew working there that day treated her; not like the new kid on the block, but as if she were a known star.

It was Audrey Hepburn. I didn’t know it then, but fate would happily bring us together many times over the coming years.”

Bob Willoughby on Exhibit at National Portrait Gallery

We are pleased to announce Bob Willoughby’s inclusion in the “American Cool” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., up until September 7th. Of his portrait of Billie Holiday, they write: “In this iconic photograph, Holiday emerges as if from black satin, part African mask and part Hollywood diva, dragging her shadow along.”

Billie Holiday sings at the Tiffany Club in Los Angeles, 1952.

Billie Holiday sings at the Tiffany Club in Los Angeles, 1952.


Bob Willoughby Solo Exhibit in Tokyo

We are very pleased to announce a new exhibition, Bob Willoughby: Hollywood Special, at Gallery Toki-No-Wasuremono in Tokyo. This retrospective of Bob’s work runs November 13th-23rd, 2013.

invitation to Tokyo show

Bob Willoughby in Rat Pack Exhibit at Paul Smith; New York & Chicago

As part of their 75th Anniversary, menswear fashion icon Paul Stuart celebrates The Rat Pack in style for the month of October. The photo exhibit also features the deluxe collector’s edition book The Rat Pack, featuring classic photographs by Bob Willoughby.


Crowd watches Deana Martin sing

Crowd watches Deana Martin, Dean Martin’s daughter, sing at The Rat Pack show at Paul Stuart NY

Bob Willoughby in Jazz Exhibit in Paris

We are pleased to announce Bob Willoughby’s representation in the “For Jazz Lovers” show, now on exhibit in Paris at Galerie Photo12. The show, curated by Daniel Filipacchi, runs from September 13th to November 16th, 2013.