James Dean in Times Square


Behind the camera: Dennis Stock
Where: Walking the streets of Times Square, New York
Photo Summary: James Dean walking in the rain in Times Square New York
Picture Taken: February 1955

James Dean’s fate as an iconic movie star would be guaranteed after this photo was published in a 1955 LIFE magazine issue. Only a few months later the star would die in a car crash out west. His image as a rebellious angst-ridden star would be forever sealed by his death.

Taking the picture

The photographer, Dennis Stock, had met James Dean in New York where the two talked and agreed to work together. Stock was at first hesitant about the shoot. But after Jimmy, Dennis always insisted on calling him James Dean Jimmy, invited him to a sneak premiere to Dean’s film, East of Eden, Stock was sold on the collaboration. In an interview to PBS remembers,

“As was customary in my business, I would solicit an assignment guarantee to cover expenses. The obvious magazine to approach was Life. If I was assigned to the Life editors, we could set up a schedule for visiting Indiana and New York. We further agreed that I would have the first exclusive rights to the picture story on Jimmy.”

Stock also recalled that Dean, perhaps pushing his star power too far, made some conditions on the photo shoot. He wanted a cover guarantee and an agreement that his friend to do the accompanying write-up. Stock recalls,

It was an unusual and highly egocentric gesture. I said I’d pass the request on to the editors. It was a foolhardy demand, which I never conveyed to the magazine, gambling on our growing friendship to keep the assignment afloat. I told Jimmy the editor’s answer was no. For days he acted like a spoiled kid, and then finally came around, making it possible for us to leave for Fairmount the first week in February, 1955.

They went to Fairmount to cover his small town Midwest childhood then went to New York to capture his budding movie stardom. In Fairmount they shot a number of interesting shots including one with a large hog. While Dean was agreeable in his hometown but in New York Dennis found the movie star to be grumpy and difficult to work with. Apparently, the night before the Times Square shot Dean’s insomnia had hit and the idea to take pictures in the cold wet and miserable weather took some convincing by the photographer. The photo essay titled, Moody new star, was published in the March 7, 1955, issue of LIFE magazine. On pg 128 this image was published with the caption:

Walking in Rain, Dean wanders anonymously down the middle of New York’s Times Square. His top-floor garret on Manhattan’s West Side is no more home to him, he says, than the farm in Indiana. But he feels that his continuing attempt to find out just where he belongs is the source of his strength as an actor.

James Dean


James Dean died at the young age of 24 on September 30, 1955, in a horrible car crash at the junction of highways 46 and 41 in California. His image of a rebel was created in one his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause. His other two movie roles, loner Cal Trask in East of Eden, and as the surly farmer Jett Rink in Giant only supported this rebel image. Cited as an actor with great talent his death guaranteed that we would only see this side of talent. In death, he was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only person to have two posthumous acting nominations.

Dennis Stock

The New York native Stock joined the navy at the young age of 16 to fight in World War II. After the war, he studied photography and in 1951 won the first prize in the Life young photographers competition. Catching the eye of famed photographer Robert Capa he was invited to become an associate member of Magnum, Stock had early assignments in Paris before he began shooting the Hollywood scene. Over the years he published a number of collections about the American jazz scene. He died on Jan. 11, 2010 from colon cancer in Sarasota, Florida. He was 81.

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Copyright to this photo is managed by Magnum: James Dean in Times Square by Dennis Stock

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Marilyn Monroe

Behind the camera: The many press photographers and bystanders that took pictures of the movie shoot for, The Seven Year Itch
Where: The pictures were shot at Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street close to the Trans-Lux theatre.
Photo Summary: Marilyn Monroe
Picture Taken: Late Sept 14, early morning of Sept 15, 1954

Before her death, Marilyn Monroe was an iconic Movie star who’s movies thrilled millions. This famous scene was shot for the movie, The Seven Year Itch . The picture has been turned into posters, t-shirts, mugs and is probably her most famous image. Filmed on location on Lexington Ave, New York, the New Yorkers who turned up to watch the filming got so out of control that the director couldn’t use any of the footage taken because of the crowd noise. The scene had to be recreated in Studio but then was cut by the censors for being too steamy. In the actual movie, her skirt never rises above her knees.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, singer, and model. After acting in small roles for several years, she gradually became known for her comedic skills, sex appeal, and screen presence, going on to become one of the most popular movie stars of the 1950s. She was and is idolized throughout the world as a sex goddess. Later in her career, she worked towards serious roles with a measure of success but was always restrained by several prescription drug addictions.

Marilyn and Joe Dimaggio

[bigquote quote=”we haven’t lost a star; we’ve gained a center fielder” author=”Fox execs on the Dimaggio marriage”]
Marilyn was married three times in her short life. Her third and last was to Arthur Miller the famous playwright on June 29, 1956. Author of the play Death of a Salesman and a movie Marilyn stared in, The Misfits; their marriage lasted four years and seven months with the two divorcing in 1961. Her first marriage was when she was just 16 to James Dougherty on June 19, 1942. She filed for divorce in Las Vegas, Nevada and it was finalized on September 13, 1946.

Her second was in 1951 she eloped with, famous baseball player, Joe DiMaggio on January 14, 1954. Fox loved the idea of marriage with executives boasting that “we haven’t lost a star; we’ve gained a center fielder”. The marriage was rocky from the start with Joe pressuring Marilyn to become a quiet wife while Marilyn tried to keep her star rising. Even on their honeymoon, Marilyn left to do a tour for the troops in Korea. A busy schedule of movies saw Marilyn go directly from the movie set of Show Business to the set of The Seven Year Itch. This was a move that made Dimaggio furious as he wanted to spend some time with his new wife. An abusive man, friends, and makeup people would often see bruises on her arms and backs from her fights with Joe. When Marilyn visited Marlon Brando on the set of Desirée he noticed that her arm was black and blue. Yet the stoic Marilyn, while their marriage was crumbling she, had to shoot, The Seven Year Itch.
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The scene from The Seven Year Itch

The Seven Year Itch was a play turned into a movie about a man who sent his family away upstate to escape the hot and humid New York summer. While alone he meets his new neighbor, the blonde and beautiful Marilyn Monroe, known in the movie as “the girl”. The two get to know each other and he is torn between his lust for the girl and being faithful to his wife.

The scene in which the skirt was to blow up was a part of the movie were Marilyn’s character, known as the girl, was on a date with the main character, Richard Sherman played by Tom Ewell. They are walking out of the Trans-Lux theatre where they just watched Creature from the Black Lagoon. As they walk down the street Marilyn sees the breeze wafting up from the sidewalk grates as a subway car passes underneath. Even though it is night, New York is still hot and humid and she runs over to catch the breeze. As subways run back and forth and her skirt is lifted up, she says her lines from which we get some famous quotes such as, “Don’t you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?” and “Ooohhh! This feels just elegant!”

This particular scene is where Richard Sherman is overtaken by the moment and kisses Marilyn. However, while the play had Sherman eventually sleeping with Marilyn’s character the movie ends with Sherman being faithful and running to upstate New York to join his wife and son.

Behind the Scenes


Crowd around Marilyn while filming the famous scene picture by Sam Shaw

Crowd around Marilyn while filming the famous scene, picture by Sam Shaw


Directed by Billy Wilder the film required the subway skirt scene to be shot at a location on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street in New York. Fox Studio publicity men put the word out on the street that Marilyn would be on location wearing an outfit that would, “stop traffic”. Marilyn who by this time was taking multiple pills for various ailments both real and imagined struggled with her lines. While Marilyn did a take after take a crowd began to develop around the many photographers who showed up to get pictures. Rather than being quiet and constrained, the mob of New Yorkers yelled and whooped whenever the skirt was blown up over her waist which the bright movie lights, despite wearing two sets of underwear, revealed “all” of Marilyn.

The Split

Joe Dimaggio hated publicity and Hollywood, he usually stayed away from the set but since Marilyn was filming in New York he hovered nearby drinking at a bar. He ran into a friend, Walter Winchell who convinced him to go to the set and watch Marilyn.

The scene when he arrived was of thousands of fans screaming every time they could see her underwear. Conservative Joe Dimaggio while listening to the roar of the mob in time with the skirt lifting over her waist became infuriated and stormed off the set. At the hotel, that night crewmen heard screaming from their room and the next day Marilyn’s hairdresser, Gladys Whitten had to cover up bruises on her shoulders with make-up.

After filming, the couple flew back to California were friends saw more fights and neighbors saw Marilyn wandering the streets crying. 274 days after getting married the two staged an elaborate press conference where they announced that they were getting a divorce due to, “conflict of careers” and, “the usual mental cruelty”.
The skirt scene that helped kill the marriage was thrown out by the director as the crowd noise made it unusable. The whole street was recreated in a studio so that Marilyn could do it again in the privacy. Even then most of the skirt shots were cut from the picture when the Hollywood censorship board, the Hays Code or Production code, killed any shot where the skirt went over the knee.

The Dress

Over the years actress, Debbie Reynolds amassed a huge collection of Hollywood memorabilia including the infamous dress used in this image. In 2011 her collection was put on the auction block and a lucky and very rich bidder bought the dress for $4.6 million ( $5.52 million after taxes and fees were included ) This smashed the record for most-payed-for dress which was held by “Audrey Hepburn’s iconic little black dress from the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which sold for $923,187.”

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Tennis Girl

Behind the camera: Martin Elliot
Where: Birmingham University’s tennis courts in Edgbaston, United Kingdom
Photo Summary: Then 18-year-old Fiona Butler (Married and now Fiona Walker)
Picture Taken: September of 1976

In September of 1976 aspiring photographer, Martin Elliot convinced, his then-girlfriend, Fiona Butler to pose for a series of cheeky pictures in hopes of creating the next big pinup poster. He took a couple of shots and sold this image to publishing giant Athena. The poster went on to sell 2 million copies. In response to famous British film and television critic George Melly calling the poster a “schoolboy joke” Martin Elliot replied, “that’s just what it was.”

Taking the photo

In 2011 Fiona Butler finally agreed to show her face


In 1976 Martin Elliot was dating 18-year-old Fiona Butler. Anxious to help out her photographer boyfriend she agreed to pose for some photos at the Birmingham University’s tennis courts in Edgbaston, central England. Fiona didn’t actually play tennis and had to borrow the tennis racket and Eliot had their tailor friend, Carol Knotts, design and create a sexy tennis dress. In a 2007 interview, Fiona recalled that she:

can remember the day quite clearly … When the picture got so popular I was quite amused that something taken that afternoon could get so big. It became one of those pictures that everyone knows and everyone’s seen. It gave me quite a buzz because I could secretly smile and say ‘no you’re wrong’, every time someone guessed.

I remember going to a party with my husband and people were saying ‘is that the girl in the photograph?’. They looked me up and down and said ‘I don’t think so’ I’ve got no objections to it whatsoever. My children have never been upset about it. It’s really nothing that anyone could be offended by. It’s just a bit of fun. I think it was banned in a couple of countries but really I don’t think there was anything to get upset about.

The poster has become such a cultural icon that when Fiona went on to marry, millionaire Ian Walker, and have kids her son’s headmaster confided in her that he had the poster on his wall while in University.

The poster

Publishing giant Athena bought the rights for the poster and released the first print in a calendar for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. The calendar was released the same year Virginia Wade won the Wimbledon singles title. Due to the popularity of the calendar, Athena published a poster and these combined factors pushed the poster into mass production and it eventually went on to sell over 2 million copies.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the photo the tennis outfit and racket were sold on Internet auction site eBay on June 16, 2006. Some of the proceeds of the sale went to the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust, a disabled children charity. The remaining went to the dress designer Carol Knotts’ attempt to take part in the Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race in 2008.

Imitators

For British male comedians, it’s almost like a right of passage to imitate this image with celebs like Alan Carr, Frank Skinner, and Ricky Gervais exposing their backsides. I’ll spare you their pictures but I’ll include this one of singer, and all around superstar, Kylie Minogue.

The Photographer

Originally from Oldbury, Martin Elliot was in the Birmingham School of Photography program and after graduating had a successful career with a studio in Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter; living in Stourbridge and Portishead. In later life when doing interviews he would remember that he took the shot during “an afternoon in September at the end of the long hot summer. It was over very quickly. I only took one roll of film, which is pretty feeble for a photographer and I just hoped I’d got the shot.”

In 1999 he retired and lived in Cornwall before losing a 10-year battle to cancer in April 2010.

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Betty Grable

Behind the camera: Frank Powolny
Where: Studio
Photo Summary: Betty Grable in a promotional shot for the movie Sweet Rosie O’Grady
Picture Taken:1943

While American soldiers were overseas fighting World War II, they longed for something that reminded them of home. They chose this picture of Betty Grable. Some liked her sexy figure; others thought she reminded them of that ideal “girl back home.” Whatever the reason, she was by far the number one pin-up girl during that time.

Taking the picture

Grable had just finished the movie Sweet Rosie O’Grady, and the studio needed some bathing suit shots. Grable herself remembers that “the session wasn’t going too well; Frank was trying to achieve something different. After about a dozen shots, he told me to turn my back to the camera and he would catch my face in profile. I obliged, turned my face toward the camera, and asked, ‘How about this?'” which was when Powolny snapped his photo. Powolny remembers that:

I asked Betty if she’d like to have a back shot, just to be different, She said, ‘Yes,’ and began to clown around. ‘You want it like this?’ she asked, posing. And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I made only two shots of that pose. It was the second shot that became famous.

There are some who claim that Grable was pregnant at the time when this shoot happened but both her kids Victoria and Jessica’s birth dates wouldn’t match up. Victoria was born on March 4, 1944, and Jessica was born on May 20, 1947. It was doubtful that the pregnancy would have been showing in early 1943 if she conceived as late as June 1943. Also, Powolny took other photos of her facing the camera and it doesn’t appear to show a baby bump. When the studio released the photo it became the most requested picture in movie history.
FOX studios saw its potential and persuaded the US military to allow it to distribute 5 million postcards of this picture to American GIs fighting in the war. Soldiers soon had painted the picture on planes, bomber jackets, and barrack walls making it the most popular pin-up during the war.
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Betty Grable

She was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri, on December 18, 1916. The third child of John Conn Grable (June 28, 1883-January 25, 1954) and Lillian Rose Hofmann (May 29, 1889-December 24, 1964). Her sister was Marjorie L. Grable (April 17, 1909-November 25, 1980) and her brother was John Carl Grable (who died in infancy). She was propelled into acting by her mother, who insisted that one of her daughters become a star. For her first role, as a chorus girl in the movie Happy Days (1929), Grable was only 13 years old (legally underage for acting), but, because the chorus line performed in blackface, it was impossible to tell how old she was.

She got a number of small-time roles in various movies before obtaining a contract with 20th Century Fox, becoming their top star throughout the 40s. It was during her reign as box-office champ (in 1943) that Grable posed for her iconic pin-up photo, which (along with her movies) soon became escapist fare among GIs fighting overseas in World War II. Despite solid competition from Rita Hayworth, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, and Lana Turner, Grable was indisputably the number one pinup girl for American soldiers. She was wildly popular at home as well, placing in the top ten box-office draws each year for ten years. By the end of the 1940s, Grable was the highest-paid female star in Hollywood.

Also, in 1943, she married jazz trumpeter and big band leader Harry James, by whom she had two children; they divorced in 1965. Grable’s later career was marked by feuds with studio heads, who worked her to exhaustion. At one point, in the middle of a fight with Darryl F. Zanuck, she tore up her contract with him and stormed out of his office. Gradually leaving movies entirely, she made the transition to television and starred in Las Vegas.

I little tragic irony involved a nuclear weapon named after Betty. On May 25, 1953, the largest atomic weapon fired by artillery was exploded over the Las Vegas desert in the test series named Operation Upshot-Knothole. The cannon was named Atomic Annie while the shell and the blast were named Grable. Thousands of military personnel were present at the Grable blast to test exposure to radiation. Operation Upshot-Knothole was responsible for the release of a large portion of the radioactive iodine produced as a result of continental nuclear tests. This fallout resulted in thousands of cases of cancer. Grable herself died of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, 30 years to the day after her marriage to Harry James. She is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.

Frank Powolny

Frank Powolny was an immigrant moving to the United States when he was 13, growing up in Clarkson, Nebraska. As the chief portrait and still photographer at 20th Century Fox from 1923 to 1966 he captured thousands of stars including taking the last known photographs of Marilyn Monroe. On January 5th, 1986 he died of a heart attack in Valencia.

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Farrah Fawcett – Swimsuit Poster

Behind the camera: Bruce McBroom
Where: Farrah Fawcett’s home in Bel Air, California
Photo Summary: Farrah Fawcett in a red swimsuit
Picture Taken: Summer of 1976 poster released in Sept of same year

During World War II Betty Grable was the pin-up queen. After the war, the title was passed from various Hollywood bombshell to Hollywood bombshell but Farrah Fawcett ruled the 70’s. This poster which was released the same year as when she played Jill Munroe on the TV show Charlie’s Angels went on to sell a record 12 million copies making it one of the most famous pin-ups ever.

Pro Arts Inc.

Mike and Ted Trikilis dropped out of Kent State in 1967 to open an art gallery that sold posters. A shipment of anti-war posters soon became their number one breadwinner and so they sold the store and became the Pro Arts Inc. Ohio’s number one and only Distributor of Youth-Oriented Posters. They struggled for a few years but then a poster of the Fonz sold more than a quarter-million copies which bumped Pro Arts in the big leagues.
In April of 1976, Ted was working on his farm with the neighbor’s son Pat Partridge when Pat mentioned that if he running Pro Arts he would make a poster of Farrah Fawcett. He admitted that he and his friends had been buying women’s magazines just to get pictures of her from the Wella Balsam shampoo ads. Ted had never heard of Farrah but knew that if students were using ads of her then a poster would be a big seller. He soon got in touch with Fawcett’s agent Rick Hersh and tried to get a deal. After Ted finished talking Hersh was puzzled and asked, “What type of product is Farrah to be selling on the poster?” “We want to sell Farrah on the Farrah poster,” Ted explained.
Hersh passed the idea on to Farrah who thought it was “cute” and said she had a photographer she likes to work with.

Taking the picture



When the photo was taken Farrah Fawcett was still an unknown actress wanting to make it big. She hadn’t yet signed on for her hit show Charlie’s Angels but got some work doing commercials. Bruce McBroom a freelance photographer had worked with Farrah before and so Pro Arts agreed to hire him for the shoot. They wanted a bikini shot of the blond beauty.
The shoot was at Farrah’s Bel Air, Calif., home of her and then-husband, actor Lee Majors. She did her own hair and they took the photos behind the home by their pool. She modelled several different swimsuits but McBroom didn’t get excited about any of the pictures he shot. When she came down in the now famous red one-piece swimsuit to cover a childhood scar on her stomach McBroom knew he had something. For the backdrop McBroom grabbed the old Indian Blanket covering his car seat and hung it up, “I should have told people I styled this,” McBroom says, “but the truth is it came off the front seat of my ’37 Chevy.”
He took a number of shots, using his Nikon, including a sultry Farrah eating a cookie but Farrah chose the final frame that would make her one of the most famous people of the ’70s. In the early summer of ’76 McBroom sent a package of 25 shots of Farrah indicating which one Farrah wanted to use.

I’ve since heard that when the guy in Cleveland got the pictures, he went, “First of all, where’s the bikini?” He told me he wasn’t ever gonna pay me, because he hated the pictures. But I guess he showed them around to people in his business and they changed his mind. It was Farrah’s pose, Farrah’s suit, Farrah’s idea. She picked that shot. She made a lot of money for him and for herself, and made me semifamous.
–McBroom

McBroom was paid $1000 for the assignment but is happy to be associated with such a cultural icon. In 2006 on the 30th anniversary of the image, Fawcett said: “I was a little self-conscious [of the image], probably because my smile is so big, but it always more ‘me’ than any other photograph out there.”
Ice Used?

It was all Farrah
– McBroom

Legend has grown around Farrah’s prominent features and that she used ice but the photographer, McBroom has always dispelled the rumour saying, “It was all Farrah,”.

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett (born Ferrah Leni Fawcett on February 2, 1947) in Corpus Christi, Texas to James William Fawcett and Pauline Alice Evans. She is the second of 2 daughters. Her older sister, Diane, passed away from lung cancer in 1998. As a child, Farrah displayed a natural athletic ability which her father encouraged. She was raised Roman Catholic. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

In 1976, Fawcett played the character of Jill Munroe for one year in the successful TV series Charlie’s Angels. She was paid $5,000 an episode but with the popularity of the poster earned $400,000 in royalties. She broke her contract and left the show after one season. As settlement to a lawsuit stemming from her early departure, Fawcett appeared six more times as a guest star in seasons three and four.

Fawcett went on to receive achieve critical praise and her first of three Emmy Award nominations as a serious actress for her role as a battered wife in the 1984 television movie The Burning Bed. She also won acclaim in the stage and movie version of Extremities, in which she played a rape victim who turns the tables on her attacker. She then played a predatory role in another miniseries, Small Sacrifices, receiving a second Emmy nomination. Her third Emmy nomination came in 2004 for her work in The Guardian. Fawcett has been nominated for several other awards as well including the Golden Globe Award and ACE awards.

Fawcett posed in the December 1995 issue of Playboy, which became the best-selling issue of the 1990s, with over 4 million copies sold worldwide. She later posed for the July 1997 issue, which also became a top seller.
Farrah Fawcett was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. At approximately 9:28 a.m., PDT on June 25, 2009, in the intensive care unit of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with cancer.

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