Ted Allan (1910-1993)
Ted Allan started out as a child actor but soon recognized his greater skills behind the camera. While still a teenager he had a booth at a department store in Hollywood where he met and photographed aspiring players. His first studio position was at Fox Pictures. At 23 he was offered George Hurrell’s portrait gallery at MGM, which immediately catapulted Allan to the top echelon of studio photographers. At MGM his nickname was “Rembrandt”. Photographing many of the studio’s great stars, his most important collaboration was with Jean Harlow, with whom, in contrast to Hurrell, he played down her sexiness and focused on her beauty. Allan was particularly good with men and made terrific portraits of subjects as diverse at Robert Taylor, Jimmy Stewart and the Marx Brothers. He left MGM in 1937 to work freelance, including a stint at Selznick International. In the 1960s Allan was under exclusive contract to Frank Sinatra. He ranks among Hollywood’s best-liked photographers. In retirement he enthusiastically printed from his original negatives for John Kobal, up until his death in the Hollywood Hills in 1993.
Ernest Bachrach (1899-1973)
Ernest Bachrach got his start working for the Famous Players-Lasky studio in Astoria, New York, where, beginning around 1920, he photographed Mae Murray and Gloria Swanson, among others. So taken was Swanson with the young photographer that she insisted he move to Los Angeles when motion picture production consolidated on the west coast. At the creation of RKO in 1929, Bachrach was hired to supervise the portrait and stills department. He continued to work at RKO until Desilu purchased the studio in 1958. Bachrach may be best known for his portraits of Katharine Hepburn, who was subjected to the full glamour treatment in front of his camera lens. Bachrach supervised RKO’s talented roster of still photographers including Alex Kahle, Gaston Longet and John Miehle. Kahle shot the stills for Citizen Kane, and Miehle is responsible for most of the set shots of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing. Like Clarence Sinclair Bull, his contemporary at MGM, Bachrach worked from the silent days into the 1950s, and in some of his last professional assignments, he photographed Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood.
Clarence Sinclair Bull (1896-1979)
From the moment of the consolidation that created MGM in 1924 until his retirement in 1961, Clarence Sinclair Bull commanded the studio’s stills department. Coming to Hollywood from his native Montana, his first permanent position was working for Samuel Goldwyn in 1919. At MGM he supervised as many as a dozen still photographers who raced to document the fifty feature films and dozens of short subjects made by the studio each year. Although Bull’s supervisory role must have been enormous, he found time to shoot portraits and developed a special rapport with male stars. In late 1929, as Ruth Harriet Louise was leaving the studio, Bull photographed Greta Garbo for Anna Christie (1930), heralding a twelve-year relationship as her principal photographer. The results of those sessions are among the bedrock of Hollywood portraiture. Bull started experimenting with color in the late 1930s. Never part of the vanguard, Bull’s work was always excellent and sometimes magnificent. No photographer has ever worked with more great faces than Bull. Kobal met Bull in the late 1970s and they collaborated on creating a portfolio of Garbo prints, Bull printing again from his original negatives. He died in 1979 as the project was nearing completion.
Bull photographed Gary Cooper when the actor was on loan to MGM in 1931. He posed for this classic portrait, after completing Operator 13 opposite Marion Davies.
Robert Coburn (1900-1990)
Robert Coburn’s name is indelibly linked to Columbia Pictures where he photographed all the studio’s great players, from Rita Hayworth to Kim Novak. As a teenager, Coburn moved to Hollywood, where he developed an interest in photography. By the mid 1920s, he was shooting stills for Cecil B. deMille. Ernest Bachrach hired him at RKO in 1929 when that studio’s stills department was being established. Among his tasks was to shoot all the stills for King Kong (1933) many of which were made from miniature sets. He was lured away from RKO by independent producer Samuel Goldwyn to replace Kenneth Alexander in 1936. For Goldwyn, Coburn photographed stars such as Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier for Wuthering Heights (1939). As Goldwyn released his films through United Artists, Coburn was often called to that studio to shoot stills for movies such as Hedy Lamarr’s first American feature, Algiers (1938). In 1941 Coburn was asked to take over the still photography department at Columbia Pictures, where he is best remembered for his work with Rita Hayworth, including the magnificent portraits he made for Gilda (1946). After leaving Columbia in 1960 Coburn worked freelance for several years doing still work on films such as The Birds (1963) for Alfred Hitchcock.
John Engstead (1909-1983)
Seventeen-year-old John Engstead joined Paramount in 1926 as an office boy working in the publicity department. Soon he was employed as a stylist for Eugene Robert Richee and Otto Dyar. One day he came up with the idea of asking Dyar to photograph Clara Bow outside the studio in outdoor settings – an unheard of practice for a top star. His boss was furious, but the photographs of Bow on a sailboat were so fresh and luminous that rather than being fired he was promoted. After five years working with photographers, he tried his hand behind a camera. Good pal Cary Grant was his practice subject. For the balance of the 1930s Engstead worked as art supervisor in the stills department and also occasionally took candid shots. Along with Richee, Engstead lost his job in a Paramount restructuring in 1941. He decided to set up his own studio and, along with George Hurrell, soon became among the most sought-after independent portrait photographers working in Hollywood. He was equally gifted at shooting fashion, and he found work with the top magazines. Engstead memorably photographed Marlon Brando for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), and was Marlene Dietrich’s exclusive photographer when she began her concert career.
Eugene Robert Richee (1896-1972)
When Paramount Pictures created an in-house portrait studio in 1921 Eugene Robert Richee was hired to head up the operation. He brought together a talented team including William Walling, Don English and, later, Otto Dyar and John Engstead, all of whom had long and significant careers as Hollywood portrait artists. With the advent of Paramount’s glorious glamour era in the mid-1920s, Richee was busy photographing Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Louise Brooks. Working with Dietrich he photographed her under Josef von Sternberg’s magical lighting. Perhaps the best known of all early Hollywood photographs is Richee’s portrait of Louise Brooks standing against a black background, wearing a long string of pearls. Richee worked at Paramount until 1941 when, for reasons never satisfactorily discovered, he left to take a job at Warner Brothers. Reunited with Dietrich at MGM in 1944 he made the stills for Kismet (1944). In the 1950s Richee was again recorded as working at MGM and as being responsible for the stills of Gene Kelly dancing in the rain in Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
Bud Fraker (1916 - 2002)
Bud Fraker was a Pennsylvania native, who came west to pursue a career in photography. In 1934, he began working part-time as a photographer at Columbia Pictures under his brother William A. Fraker Jr. who was head of Still Photography. Following his brother’s sudden death, Bud was promoted to department head.
In 1942 he became Head of Still Photography at Paramount Studios where he remained until the 1960's. After leaving Paramount, he began doing freelance work for other studios while running his own photo lab until his retirement in 1979.
His nephew is the noted cinematographer William A. Fraker.
Irving Lippmann (1906 - 2006)
Lippmann spent 60 years in the film industry beginning as a sixteen-year-old assistant cameraman on a silent era comedy directed by Fatty Arbuckle in 1922 for $25 per week.
Lippman held various jobs and titles during his tenure in the business from still photographer and film director to cinematographer. He photographed many world-renowned celebrities including Albert Einstein, President Franklin Roosevelt, and President Ronald Reagan with his wife Nancy. While Lippman worked primarily for Columbia Pictures he also worked for many other film and production companies. His work with such stars and personalities as Frank Capra, John Barrymore, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, William Holden, Clark Gable, and baseball great Mickey Mantle was well-known.
Lippman photographed and caught on film such beauties as Mae West, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert and Barbara Stanwyck. His later work, as a cinematographer, included The Monkees TV Series and Love Boat.
Virgil Apger (1903-1994)
Apger’s interest in photography began when he was a child in Goodland, Idaho. His father, the local sheriff, took photographs of the town's criminals. Apger worked as an usher and assistant to the projectionist of the town's only movie theatre. His first job in films was as a transportation man and labourer for the Mack Sennett Studios.
In 1929 his brother-in-law, Eugene Robert Richee, who was head of the portrait gallery at Paramount, hired Apger as his assistant. Apger developed Richee's negatives, worked with the dryers, and made prints.
In 1931 he went to work for MGM in 1931, first as assistant to Head of the Stills department and Portrait Gallery, Clarence Sinclair Bull. Soon Jean Harlow gave Apger his start as a production still photographer by requested him to shoot photos on "China Seas" (1935). From then on he shot the stills on all her films.
Apger's enthusiasm on the set made him extremely popular with the stars, and Greer Garson, whose films he worked on, requested him for her portrait photographer.In 1942 he received an Academy Award for Best Production Still for "Mrs. Miniver" starring Garson.
Later, in 1947, he was put in charge of the portrait gallery at MGM, and for the next 20 years he shot all of their stars: Esther Williams, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Judy Garland, Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Kay Kendall, Stewart Granger, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. Between 1948 and 1952, Apger had the distinction of having more magazine covers--among them, Life, Look and Photoplay--than all of the other photographers at all of the other studios combined.
As Hollywood photography changed in the 1950s and 1960s, and sharp lenses, flat light and stiff poses became the norm, Apger continued to stay true to the MGM tradition. When Elvis Presely came to MGM to make 'Jailhouse Rock' in 1957, he got the studio's typical glamour treatment, including a portrait session with Apger.
By the late 1950s, however, after MGM's last great productions, like the 1959 re-make of 'Ben Hur, glamour was over in Hollywood and Apger's departure in 1969 coincided with MGM's takeover by Kirk Kerkorian, which closed the door on the past forever.
FLOYD MCCARTHY (1913-1999)
Floyd was a stills photographer working at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank who photographed many of their productions and stars. He is particularly known for his portraits of James Dean in that star’s short but meteoric career.
RAY JONES (1892-1967)
Jones was Head of Stills at Fox Studios from 1930-1935 when he moved to Universal Studios where he remained as Head of Portraits until his retirement in 1958.
He was the first still photographer to win an Academy Award for Best Still Photography and won five subsequent Academy Awards too.
ANTHONY UGRIN (1900-1973)
He worked as s stills and portrait photographer for different US movie studios from the early 1030s through to the end of the 1950s. Ironically, he was uncredited for his skills on How To Marry A Millionaire and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which were amongst his finest work.
JOHN MIEHLE (1902-1952)
Miehle was born on August 7, 1902, in Los Angeles, California. He started to work as an assistant cameraman on the 1931 Fox movie Delicious starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. He then moved to RKO Studios doing, largely uncredited, still photography on some of its best-known films, such as What Price Hollywood?, Rain, Little Women, Top Hat, Kitty Foyle, Rope and Portrait of Jennie. He photographed many great stars that passed through RKO including Constance Bennett, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Ginger Rogers, William Powell, Katherine Hepburn, Dolores Del Rio, James Stewart and Cary Grant.
John Miehle is particularly remembered for the stills from the many films featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
MILTON BROWN (1895-1948)
Brown was both a noted cinematographer and photographer who worked for most of his career at MGM Studios. He was Lillian Gish's preferred still photographer and the two worked together several times between 1926 and 1929. His stills for The Wind (MGM, 1926) starring Gish are iconic.
He was also the noted cinematographer on most of Greta Garbo’s greatest films including Anna Christie, Grand Hotel, Queen Christina and Ninotcha.
ROMAN FREULICH (1898-1974)
Roman Freulich was born in Poland and at age 14 immigrated to the United States to join his brothers. He trained with New York photographer Samuel Lumiere, before moving to Hollywood in the 1920s, where his brother Jack was a portrait photographer at Universal Pictures.
Roman became a still photographer at Universal, shooting many of their major stars. He remained at Universal until 1944 when he was offered a position at Republic Studios as head of its still department. In the late 1950s, after Republic ceased production, Freulich freelanced, mostly for United Artists, until the mid-1960s.