Rita Hayworth Pinup

Behind the camera: Bob Landry
Where: Bed made up with satin sheets
Photo Summary: Rita Hayworth promoting the movie ‘You’ll Never Get Rich’
Picture Taken: Summer of 1941, August 11th edition of LIFE

In 1941 the American people, for the most part, wanted to stay out of the war raging in Europe. While the Axis and Allies fought it out in North Africa, in the USA life continued as usual. Factories produced, farmers farmed and Hollywood pumped out movies. LIFE magazine in cooperation with the movie studios would often do photo shoots of upcoming stars to promote their movies. In 1941 Rita Hayworth was making You’ll Never Get Rich and so in its August 11, 1941 edition, LIFE did a photo spread for the movie. A few months later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor dragging America into WWII. As young Americans left for combat they grabbed Hayworth’s picture to keep them company, by the end of the war over 5 million copies were printed making it one of the most famous pictures of the war, second only to Betty Grable’s Pinup. In December of 2002 the dress she wore in the picture sold at Sothebys for $26,887 USD.

Life Magazine

In the 1940s LIFE magazine was a huge platform for Hollywood to advertise its upcoming releases. Movies it spotlighted would drive the crowds into the theaters. Columbia Pictures was able to successfully lobby to have its upcoming movie, You’ll Never Get Rich featured in the August 11, 1941 of LIFE Magazine.

Taking the Picture

John G. Morris in his book “Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism” remembers:

One day, a Columbia Pictures press agent named Magda Maskel suggested photographing Rita Hayworth in a black lace nightgown that Maskel’s mother had made. [Life’s Hollywood correspondent, Richard] Pollard and photographer Bob Landry met Maskel at Hayworth’s apartment. She knelt on a bed in the nightie, looking provocative, and Landry snapped away. Good, but something else might be done. Pollard spoke up: “Rita, take a deep breath.” That was it. The perfect frame. — John G. Morris Photo editor

Bob Landry

After doing Hayworth’s photo spread Landry was still a new photographer in the business and so he was sent to report on American naval exercises in the Pacific in December of 1941. While the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Bob Landry was only 100 miles (160 km) out from the naval base. He was one of the first reporters to witness the carnage of the attack, but a lot of the photos he took were delayed for months due to censorship concerns. During the war, Landry would shoot five LIFE covers during his first year with the magazine.

Rita Hayworth

Hayworth was actually signed with Fox Studios for several months under the name of Rita Cansino before after six months Fox dropped her. She did a number of independent films before catching the eye of Columbia Pictures who signed her in the 1930s. Her break out role was a minor part in Only Angels Have Wings. As her popularity peaked in the late 40s on May 27, 1949 she married the British based Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan a son of Aga Khan III, then the head of the Ismaili Muslims. Their wedding, her third including one to Orson Welles, was a huge affair that captured the world’s attention. It soon dissolved in 1953 and she returned to film work, her career went well into the 70s when she started showing signs of dementia, doing her last movie, The Wrath of God in 1972.

After having trouble remembering simple things about her life she was told by doctors that she had Alzheimer’s disease. Her celebrity brought a lot of attention and research funding for, what was then a little-understood disease. When she died on May 14, 1987, President Reagan (not yet diagnosed himself) praised her contribution and brave face towards the disease. In a moment of lucid thought, she once told an interviewer, “whatever you write about me, don’t make it sad.”

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The Churchill Portrait

Behind the camera: Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) He signed his photos ‘Karsh of Ottawa’
Where: Speaker’s chamber in the Canadian House of Commons
Photo Summary: A glowering Winston Churchill then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Picture Taken: December 30, 1941 after a speech given to the Canadian House of Commons

Most reproduced portrait in history
-The Economist – July 18th 2002

Yousuf Karsh was arguably the most famous Canadian photographer in history. He captured this photo of Winston Churchill just after he finished giving a rousing speech at the Canadian House of Commons. The scowling Churchill portrait perfectly captured the defiant 1941 Churchill and is the most reproduced portrait in history. This image symbolized Churchill and the British Empire fighting alone against the Fascist Nazi threat.

Capturing Churchill

1941 saw Churchill leading the UK, the only European country still resisting the Nazis. While touring the Dominion to rally for Commonwealth support, Churchill gave what many remember as a rousing speech to the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa:

When I warned [the French] that Britain would fight on alone, whatever they did, their Generals told their Prime Minister and his divided cabinet: ‘In three weeks, England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.
Some chicken…Some neck!

After the speech, Canadian Prime Minister King had arranged for a portrait session to commemorate the event and told Karsh the day before, “When Churchill finishes his speech, I will bring him directly to you.” King ushered Churchill into the room but he refused to enter demanding, “What’s going on?” Unamused and caught by surprise Churchill lit up a cigar and growled, “Why was I not told of this?” The photographer Yousuf Karsh wrote what happened next:

He was in no mood for portraiture and two minutes were all that he would allow me … Two niggardly minutes in which I must try to put on film a man who had already written or inspired a library of books baffled all his biographers, filled all the world with his fame, and me, on this occasion, with dread. [Churchill marched into the room] regarding my camera as he might regard the German enemy.
… chewing vigorously on his cigar … He reluctantly followed me to where my lights and camera were set up. I offered him an ash tray for his cigar but he pointedly ignored it, his eyes boring into mine. At the camera, I made sure everything was in focus, closed the lens and stood up, my hand ready to squeeze the shutter release, when something made me hesitate. Then suddenly, with a strange boldness, almost as if it were an unconscious act, I stepped forward and said, “Forgive me, sir.” Without premeditation, I reached up and removed the cigar from his mouth.

… At this the Churchillian scowl deepened, the head was thrust forward belligerently, and the hand placed on the hip in an attitude of anger … I clicked the shutter. Then he relaxed. “All right,” he grunted as he assumed a more benign attitude, “you may take another one.”

After developing the image the young Armenian immigrant knew he had a winner but didn’t know how to go about publicizing it. Eventually, he was able to get in contact with Life magazine who used it in their magazine and then on the May 21, 1945, cover. For the image that would make what Karsh called, “the turning point in my career” Life paid him the grand total of $100.
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Yousuf Karsh

 

Yousuf Karsh - Self Portrait 1938

Yousuf Karsh – Self Portrait 1938

Yousuf Karsh was an ethnic Armenian born in Mardin Turkey on December 23, 1908. He grew up under intense Armenian-persecution where he wrote, “I saw relatives massacred; my sister died of starvation as we were driven from village to village.”
To escape persecution when he was 16, his family sent him to a photographer uncle named George Nakash who lived in Canada. When he first arrived in Eastern Quebec, young Yousuf wanted to be a doctor and worked in his uncle’s studio to raise money for medical school.
Showing promise as a photographer, Nakash sent him to study under a family friend, John Garo, a renowned photographer who lived in Boston, USA. For three years Yousuf learned the tricks of the trade often accompanying Garo to high society functions across the Eastern seaboard. During this time he became engrossed in photography and any thoughts of being a doctor were forgotten.
He returned to Ottawa and set up a studio because, “I chose Canada because it gave me my first opportunity and I chose Ottawa because, as the capital, it was a crossroads that offered access to a wide range of subjects,” As word of his talents spread he set up studios in other cities like New York and London for the convenience of his clients but it was in Canada that he captured his famous Churchill portrait.
The Churchill shot cemented his fame and throughout his career, he went on to shoot other many famous portraits and many famous people. On July 13, 2002, Karsh died at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital after complications following surgery. He was 93 years old.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 into a famous English aristocratic family, the Spencer-Churchills. He spent much of his childhood at boarding schools where he had little if any contact with his parents. He went on to the Royal Military College in Sandhurst and graduated eighth out of a class of 150 in December 1894.
As an officer in the British Army, he fought in a number of colonial wars where he showed courage on the front lines. In 1900 he started his political career and spent much of the rest of his life in British politics. In the run-up to the second world war, he fiercely opposed the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler. When Chamberlain was forced out of office Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty was chosen as successor. During the difficult war years, Churchill is credited with having the strength to never surrender to the Axis onslaught. This defiance is captured perfectly in Karsh’s picture.

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!

After the war, he lost the 1945 election but was returned to the Prime Minister’s office in 1951 before then retiring in ’55. When he died in 1965, his state funeral was attended by one of the largest assemblies of world leaders in history.

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USS Arizona Struck

Behind the camera: From the Naval archives, Photo #: NH 97379. Unknown Photographer
Where: Battleship row, Pearl Harbor
Photo Summary: USS Arizona (BB-39) a flame. The picture is taken looking from the side of the USS Arizona. To the left you can Number Two 14inch/45 triple gun turret pointing forward. The supporting structure for the gun director tripod has collapsed and the tripod is tilting forward towards the front of the ship giving the wreck its distinctive appearance.
Picture Taken:
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a military photographer

United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt and many Americans saw the war in Europe as a threat that would eventually pull Isolationist America into the war. While Roosevelt had developed a contingency plan to get troops in Continental Europe by 1943 called Rainbow Five, he faced heavy opposition from people against entering the war. This all changed on Dec 7 as after the attack the nation united against a common threat. This picture of the USS Arizona burning, sunken, broken is probably the most famous picture from the Japanese strike. It has come to represent the attack and since it’s a federal photograph with no copyrights, it is often used when talking about the attack.

Tora Tora Tora

As the Japanese strike force flew over Pearl Harbor most American servicemen thought it was nothing more than a drill. It wasn’t until the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:53 a.m and the bombs started dropping that people knew it was for real.
Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese pilots had been trained to strike the battleships that were lined up in Harbor. On board Arizona, the ship’s air raid alarm went off about 07:55, and the ship went to general quarters soon thereafter. Shortly after 08:00 a bomb dropped by a high-altitude Kate bomber (aka Kate) from the Japanese carrier Kaga hit the side of the #4 turret and glanced off into the deck below and started a small fire but detonated near the officers’ mess incinerating most Arizona’s ranking officers.
A number of bombs and torpedoes hit Arizona. The repair ship USS Vestal was tied up to Arizona so that Arizona itself was between Ford Island to the west and the Vestal and open harbor water to the east. The torpedoes that hit Arizona actually went under the smaller Vestal and exploded under the waterline of the Battleship. Private First Class James Cory who was on Arizona remembered the torpedoes hitting, “you could feel the decks-the compartments-being penetrated just like you could hold a taut piece of cloth or two … separated by you fingers and feel a needle go through them … I don’t know about other people but I thought, ‘Gee, I might get killed!'”

The Arizona magazine explosion


At 08:06 a Kate, from the carrier Hiryū, dropped a bomb, a converted 16.1″ naval shell, that hit between the starboard Turrets #1 & 2. The explosion which destroyed the forward part of Arizona was due to the detonation of the ammunition magazine, located in an armored section under the deck. Most experts seem to agree that the bomb could hardly have pierced the armor. Instead, it seems widely accepted that the black powder magazine (used for aircraft catapults) detonated first, igniting the smokeless powder magazine (used for the ship’s main armament). A 1944 BUSHIP report suggests that a hatch leading to the black powder magazine was left open, with perhaps inflammable materials stocked nearby. A US Navy historical site history.navy.mil goes as far as to suggest that black powder might have been stockpiled outside of the armored magazine. Due to the total destruction of Arizona, it seems unlikely that a definitive answer will ever be found. Credit for the hit was officially given to Japanese pilot Tadashi Kusumi. The cataclysmic explosion ripped through the forward part of the ship, touching off fierce fires that burned for two days.
The blast that destroyed Arizona and sank her at her berth alongside Ford Island consumed the lives of 1,177 of the 1,400 on board at the time—over half of the casualties suffered by the entire fleet on the “Date which will live in infamy”.
Once the fires were finally extinguished and the surviving crew were able to board to check the ship’s status they found a burnt-out hull. The senior officer in charge submitted a status report to Admiral Kimmel saying,”The USS ARIZONA is a total loss except the following is believed salvageable: fifty-caliber machine guns in maintop, searchlights on after searchlight platform, the low catapult on quarterdeck and the guns of numbers 3 and 4 turrets” (Memorandum, Commanding Officer, USS ARIZONA to CINCPAC, Pearl Harbor, T.H., December 13, 1941.
It is commonly yet incorrectly believed that Arizona remains perpetually in commission but she was placed “in ordinary” at Pearl Harbor on December 29, 1941, and Arizona was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 1, 1942. After her main battery turrets and guns were salvaged to be used as coast defence guns the wreck was cut down so that very little of the superstructure lay above water.

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