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magyar moon

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


George Hurrell (1904-1992) was a master photographer and a Hollywood icon in the 1930's and 1940's. His unique style of photography brought glamour to new heights. The magic was in his keen artistic eye and the dramatic use of lighting.

I had a difficult time extracting favorites from a very large selection.

 George Hurrell
a self-portrait 

 Marion Davies
film star of the 1920's & early 30's
long-time mistress of William Randolph Hearst 

Pola Negri
star of European and American films
from the silent era through the 1930's.
One of my personal favorites

 Ramon Novarro
from Ben Hur 1925

Novarro was the first Hollywood star to become intrigued with the photographic style of Hurrell. He introduced Hurrell to Norma Shearer, who in turn enthusiastically advanced Hurrell's career (Shearer was married to director Irving Thalberg).

Greta Garbo
wearing an outfit from the film Romance

Jean Harlow

 Johnny Weissmuller

 Joan Crawford
around 1932

Bette Davis
Hurrell preferred to photograph the stars with minimal makeup

Norma Shearer
Shearer specifically requested Hurrell to be her photographer because she wanted to create a more glamorous image of herself

 Marlene Dietrich

Joan Bennett

 Katherine Hepburn

Cary Grant
the unique lighting gave Grant a refreshingly different look from his usual portrait photos.

Rosalind Russell

Robert Taylor
What a hunk!

 Merle Oberon

 Clark Gable

Carol Lombard

Tyrone Power
I was friends with his niece in college

Hedy Lamar
didn't require dramatic lighting to look stunning

Jane Russell
promotional photo for The Outlaw

 Veronica Lake

Too many photos, not enough time......
I'll have to do a Hurrell sequel.

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  1. Replies
    1. I knew you'd enjoy seeing these, Paula. Thanks!

  2. Yes, please do a sequel. Were actors and actresses better looking back then? I can't think of any current favorites that even come close to the glamour they exude. Then again, I just looked at the Emmy winners and I didn't recognize the vast majority of the actors or the shows that were nominated. Oscar winners are just as elusive.
    Do you think you like Pola Negri's photo because she looks somewhat like a gypsy in it?
    I tried to guess the actors before looking at the names. I mistook Joan Bennett for Lucille Ball. Lucy used to be quite a stunner before she embraced comedy. Also, what's with Joan's left hand in that picture? She looks like she's ready to claw someone or something.

    1. Nothing nowadays could ever come close to Hollywood's golden past. The classy dignity of those stars is gone forever. As you said, I hardly recognize any of the celebrities today. All of the recent Emmy and Oscar winners seem to vanish soon after they collect their awards.

      Pola Negri does indeed look like a gypsy in that photo and I like the look. I happen to have a few portraits of Lucille Ball taken by Hurrell. I'll include one in my sequel.

      I'm not sure about Joan Bennett's hand. I think it has a mind of its own.

  3. Hi Jon,
    Just wanted to say a BIG ole "Thank You" for this great post! Thanks for sharing these lovely and beautiful photos with us!!! Please, please do a sequel!!! It was wonderful to see these "Stars". The ones of today, can't even come close to them.
    Hope all is going well with you.....saw the great photos around your looks lovely!!!
    Thanks and take care,
    Carp Diem,
    Roy In Texas

    1. I'm so glad that you appreciated this, Roy, and I plan to do a sequel very soon (probably my next post).
      There is absolutely no glamour or class in the so-called "stars" of today. Sadly, the Golden Era of Hollywood is gone forever.

      It's good to hear from you, and I'm glad you're visiting both my blogs! Take care.

  4. I too could recognize many of the stars before I scrolled down to your captions. I did NOT recognize clark gable with his 'stache, and mommie dearest as a blond. joan bennett I always remember from "dark shadows". roz russell is buried under that cloak! I could knit that sweater robert taylor is wearing. and I thought hedy lamarr was vivienne leigh.

    MORE, jon, please! hopefully there will be pix of humphrey bogart, lauren bacall, and audrey hepburn.

    1. Hurrell took an enormous amount of Joan Crawford photos. Someday I'll do an exclusive Mommy Dearest post. I'll try to remember your requests for my next Hurrell post.

  5. Impressive work! In first photo, "George Hurrell a self-portrait", the artist poses with a camera that must have contained a plate nearly a foot square. Those monsters could define each hair on a model's head. When I learned photography in the mid-1960s, I borrowed a Speed Graphic for a year --standard press camera of the time-- which had a negative almost half that size and was amazed by the detail it captured. It could see more than I could with my own eyes. Even with photo retouching, the model had to be pretty flawless to stand such scrutiny. Now my photography skills are obsolete, but others are improving digital instruments and having great success --art always finds its way.

    1. Unfortunately I've never had any photography skills, so I envy your knowledge. It never fails to amaze me how incredibly clear and detailed some of these old b&w photos are. The monster camera that's in Hurrell's self-portrait is really impressive.

  6. 'Lovely' sounds like a cliche. I've never seen anything like these images... they're quite refreshing!
    Thank you for offering to showcase more!

    1. There really is nothing like those classic Hollywood photos of the Golden past.
      Part Two coming soon.