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.

Copyright info


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

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Albert Einstein

Behind the camera: Arthur Sasse
Where: Princeton University
Photo Summary: Einstein leaving his 72nd birthday. Annoyed with the media he stuck out his tongue at the cameramen
Picture Taken: March 14, 1951

Einstein, the man who brought us E=mc2, nuclear power, and changed how we look at the universe. His name, Einstein, has become synonymous with brilliance or genius. Yet he wasn’t the serious, stodgy scientist stereotype, which is perhaps why he is still such a popular figure. His giant intellect, crazy hair, humor and an indifferent wardrobe made him probably one of the most famous scientists if not public figures in history. The picture of Einstein with his tongue sticking out seems to sum up these down to earth characteristics that people like so much about him. Frederic Golden of TIME nailed it when he said, Einstein was “a Cartoonist’s dream come true.”

Taking the picture

Caveo Sileo, assignment editor … Liked it, but the chief editor didn’t
-Art Sasse

The shot was taken on Einstein’s 72nd birthday right after an event in his honor was finished at Princeton on March 14, 1951. While walking with Dr. Frank Aydelotte, the former head of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Mrs. Aydelotte back to their car, reporters followed trying to get shots of Einstein. Art Sasse of the INP let the crowd of reporters take their pictures and when the crowd had dispersed walked up close to the car and said, “Ya, Professor, shmile [sic] for your birthday picture, Ya?” Einstein probably thinking the photographer wouldn’t be fast enough stuck his tongue out and quickly turned his head away. The picture ran as a shot of all three people in the car. The editors debated on whether or not to use the picture and Sasse remembers that “Caveo Sileo, assignment editor … Liked it, but the chief editor didn’t. So they had a conference with the ‘big chiefs upstairs.’ The picture got okayed, and we used it…” Einstein liked the image and cut up the picture so that it was just his head. He used it for greeting cards that he sent to his friends. This famous image has probably been reproduced on everything from posters to coffee cups.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm in Württemberg on March 14, 1879, in what was then known as the German Empire. He was born in a secular Jewish family of Hermann and Pauline Einstein. His father ran an electrochemical business. Einstein had a normal education and didn’t suffer from autism, dyslexia, and/or attention deficit disorder. In 1894 Albert’s father’s electrochemical business went belly up and the family moved to Pavia, Italy. Albert stayed behind to finish his high school but even though he passed all his courses decided to leave early before graduation and didn’t get his diploma so he could be with his family.

He eventually moved to Switzerland to finish his high school and he continued on at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) University, finishing a teaching diploma in the year 1900. He wasn’t able to find any work as a professor and a friend got him a job at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. On January 6, 1903, he married Mileva Marić a fellow student at ETH and longtime girlfriend. The two had three children, the earliest a girl, Lieserl, was born out of wedlock and after her birth disappeared. In 1919 Einstein divorced Mileva and wed his cousin Elsa Löwenthal (born Einstein, Löwenthal was her first husband’s name) a few months later.

Throughout 1905 he published a number of papers later called the Annus Mirabilis Papers. Included in these papers was one titled, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content? Which contained the famous E=mc2 equation. He left the Patent office and taught at a number of Universities in Europe eventually settling down in Berlin in 1914. He stayed in Berlin, until 1933, where he was the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.

In 1915 he started a series of lectures where he described his theory of gravity, known as general relativity. The theories he introduced were proven in 1919 by Arthur Eddington. Eddington using observations obtained from Brazil and Africa recorded the bending of light during a solar eclipse, reinforcing Einstein’s theory of relativity. Some scientists resisted these new concepts and when Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 it was granted for his earlier work on the photoelectric effect rather than his Relativity Theory. The Nobel committee picked the less-contested theory in hopes that the prize would be more acceptable to the scientific community.

Einstein flees the Nazis


Einstein becomes a US citizen


In 1933 Hitler came to power and passed the “The Law of the Restoration of the Civil Service” which forced Jewish government employees from their jobs. Einstein who had been teaching in America part-time decided to stay in America and in 1940 became a US citizen. In 1939 Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt urging America to start a nuclear program out of fear the Nazi’s would develop atomic weapons first. In his later years, he would hold a number of teaching positions while trying to prove his theories.

President of Israel

Throughout his life, he was a big supporter of Israel and worked with a number of Israeli Universities and Israeli causes. In 1952 the Israeli government offered the post of president of Israeli to Einstein an offer he declined. In letter to the Israeli government he wrote:

I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel [to be President], and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. Therefore I would also be an inappropriate candidate for this high task … I wish from the bottom of my heart that a man is found who will be able to take over the hard and responsible office due to his work and his personality.

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Passes away at 76

Aged 76 at 1:15 AM, April 18, 1955, he died in a Princeton hospital in New Jersey from internal bleeding caused by a ruptured aortic aneurysm. His brain was removed and preserved before the body was cremated. Many groups studied the brain without any significant discoveries until it eventually ended up being studied by Canadian scientists in 1996. They discovered that the part of the brain, the inferior parietal lobe, which is responsible for mathematical thought and the ability to understand space and movement was 15% wider than average brains. Also, Einstein’s brain lacked a groove that normally runs through that region of the brain. These attributes of Einstein’s brain may have given him his genius.
Upon death Einstein left his name and image to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a University he supported while alive. The royalties from the licensing of his name and any products in his likeness now go to the University. The agency that runs manages the Einstein brand is very strict and insists that when using the name, ‘Albert Einstein™’, that the trademark ™ symbol must always be present. Albert Einstein™ is a lucrative trademark that makes millions for the University. Apple computer, Disneyland, and many other corporations use his name or likeness to sell products.

Ever seen a picture of young Einstein?


Albert Einstein with friends Habicht and Solovine,ca. 1903

Einstein on the right in 1903


Almost all of the products licensed to use Einstein’s image exploit the crazy-haired mad genius look of old Einstein. Pictures of young Einstein are usually ignored even though it was this time that the man Einstein changed the world. In contrast to his later years young Einstein was by all accounts and pictures, where he is clad in the latest styles, was a snappy dresser. His admirers overlook young Einstein, perhaps because his earlier images are of him following the herd rather than the popular later old Einstein, black sheep image. Images of the old Einstein have reached iconic status. Purists and admirers of young Einstein will have been left to moan about how “the most persistent myth about Einstein is that he was born at the age of 50.”

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Face on Mars

Behind the camera: Viking I space probe
Where: 40.8° N, 9.6° W Mars
Photo Summary: A mountain formation on Mars that looks like a face
Picture Taken: July 25, 1976 as the Viking 1 space probe orbited Mars
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by NASA

Together with Bat Boy, and Elvis the “Face on Mars” has haunted supermarket checkout Tabloids for years. NASA scientists call it merely an interesting rock formation that happens to look like a face. The faithful call it an artificial monument created by Martians as a sign, perhaps a warning, to us or other Aliens.

Where on Mars

The Face is a large mountain or mesa in the Cydonia region of Mars. It is located at around the 40.8° N, 9.6° W, that’s 40.8°N of the Martian equator. Approximately 3 km long and 1.5 km wide the face was first photographed on July 25, 1976, when the Viking 1 space probe was in orbit taking pictures. The Viking 1 was snapping photos of possible landing sites for its companion ship, Viking 2 when it shot what appeared to be a giant head.
The Viking spacecraft beamed the potential landing sites back to earth where NASA planners pored over the images to find a landing spot. When NASA scientists first saw the head the facial features were thought of as a neat coincidence. The decision was made to release the image in the hopes of spurring the public’s interest in Mars and space exploration in general.

Caption of JPL Viking Press Release P-17384 NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION VIKING NEWS CENTER PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (213) 354-6000 Viking 1-61
P-17384 (35A72)
PHOTO CAPTION
July 31, 1976


This picture is one of many taken in the northern latitudes of Mars by the Viking 1 Orbiter in search of a landing site for Viking 2. It shows eroded mesa-like landforms. The huge rock formation in the center, which resembles a human head, is formed by shadows giving the illusion of eyes, nose, and mouth. The feature is 1.5 kilometers (one mile) across, with the sun angle at approximately 20 degrees. The speckled appearance of the image is due to bit errors, emphasized by enlargement of the photo. The picture was taken on July 25 from a range of 1873 kilometers (1162 miles). Viking 2 will arrive in Mars orbit next Saturday (August 7) with a landing scheduled for early September.

Cydonia

Cydonia, the area of Mars where the face is located is covered with mesas that rise high in the air, the surrounding areas having been eroded by the thin Martian air, and possibly water, over billions of years. NASA Scientists saw the image as a simply a large mountain similar to mesa’s found in Arizona deserts. The low image resolution of Viking camera made the “face’s” features appear smoother than what they would be in real life. Plus the shadows give the perception of facial features. After all the brain is trained to find patterns, especially faces, in the things we see around us which is why we see things in clouds or the man on the moon. This brain’s function even has a name: pareidolia (payr.eye.DOH.lee.uh) n. The erroneous or fanciful perception of a pattern or meaning in something that is actually ambiguous or random. Finally, as talked about in the NASA caption, a bit error or a part of the image was lost in transmission appeared right where a nostril would be on a humanoid head. It is these lost “dots” or “bit errors” that give the original image a spotty appearance.

Face becomes famous

When the image was released it captured some attention but it wasn’t until the face was re-discovered three years later that it really captured the public’s imagination. Computer engineers Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, under contract at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, had been intrigued by the face and another nearby structure shaped like a pyramid, now called the D&M pyramid after its two discoverers. Poring over NASA picture archives they found 10 images taken of the face and surrounding area but only 2 where high-resolution of the face. Using a new software they had developed called SPIT (Starburst Pixel Interleave Technique) they were able to digitally enhance the images. The results of enhanced images appeared to reveal more detail of the face including, “mouth, teeth, eye sockets, eyeball and pupil, and hairline or headress, and the FACE appears to be bysymmetrical.”

The Monuments of Mars


Some of the "Monuments of Mars" see the so-called pyramid in the bottom right hand corner.


By this time public interest in the face and the potential of a lost civilization on Mars exploded. A cottage industry of books, conventions, science fiction plots about the Face on Mars quickly sprung up seemingly lead by Richard Hoagland. In his book The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever he talks about the face and other surrounding formations that he and others have deemed evidence of a lost civilization. Included in these other “structures” are a pyramid, fortress, ruins of a city, and much more. Fringe groups who have thought that the pyramids of Egypt and South America were either inspired by or actually built by Aliens quickly pounced on the pyramid civilization on Mars theory as proof that Aliens have visited both planets.
Aerial images of the pyramid do look similar to the shots of the supposed pyramid on Mars. However, if the Face on Mars was an artificial structure why does it look straight up? The face itself is huge if you were to stand on the ground surrounding the structure you would have trouble making out the features so why would a civilization spend vast amounts of energy building something that they couldn’t even enjoy? Past civilizations on Earth have always built great monuments like this in a standing or upright sitting position i.e. Sphinx so that they could be viewed by worshippers/subjects on the ground.
While Hoagland and his fellow band of believers were working themselves into a fevered pitch pointing out new artificial landmarks on the Martian landscape NASA was preparing to the next Mars visitor. The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) began orbiting Mars on September 12, 1997, and much to the shock of the proponents of artificial life on Mars NASA did not first go to Cydonia to re-map the Face of Mars. NASA scientists refused to acknowledge that the Face of Mars is a priority and stated something to the effect of, we’ll get around to it eventually. The public outcry was so great to revisit the Cydonia region that NASA was forced to change its timetable and agreed to re-photograph the Face of Mars and surrounding formations as soon as possible.
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Race revealed


Image taken during the 2001 flyover


On the 5th of April,1998, MGS flew over the Cydonia region for the first time. The MGS was able to take pictures 10 times sharper than the original Viking photos. As it passed over the Face thousands of earth bond enthusiasts held their breath but … there was no face. Pictures beamed back to earth showed that the Face of Mars was in fact just another mountain and on closer inspection looks nothing like a face.
Of course, this did not faze the hard-core believers who pointed out that the Face on Mars is located at 41 degrees north Martian latitude. At that degree, it was winter in April 1998, winter on Mars is a cloudy time of year. True-believers clung to the belief that the MGS camera images were distorted by winter clouds! If only NASA could get shots on a clear Martian day. Then surely the face would be there for all to see.

On the 8th of April, 2000, such a day happened to come along. A cloudless summer day in Cydonia, MGS (MGS even now continues to orbit and photograph Mars having mapped almost 5% of Red Planet’s surface) took its most recent pictures: “We had to roll the spacecraft 25 degrees to centre the Face in the field of view,” said Jim Garvin, chief scientist for NASA Mars Exploration Program. “It’s not easy to target Cydonia,” said Dr Garvin. “In fact, it’s hard work.” MGS is a mapping satellite that looks straight down and scans like a fax machine in 2.5 km-wide strips. “We just don’t pass over the Face very often.”
Again the photos confirmed that the Face on Mars is natural not a face with no eyes, no nose, and no mouth. This time the MGS was able to use laser altimetry data to confirm even more that Face is natural.
Of course, not even this has convinced the die-hard believers. Google “Face of Mars” and you will get hundreds of sites claiming that even with the recent MGS Passovers there is enough evidence to prove that the face is artificial and that NASA is trying to cover up life on the Red Planet by providing distorting images and refusing to do certain photographic tests to prove that the Face of Mars isn’t natural. If you yourself are on the fence thousands of pictures taken by MGS have been placed online and you can scan Mar’s many volcanoes, canyons, ice fields, weather systems and even the latest images of Cydonia and the “Face.”

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Loch Ness

Behind the camera: Officially Colonel Robert Wilson but later revealed to be Ian Wetherell
Where: Northern shoreline of Loch Ness in Scotland, UK
Photo Summary: The supposed Loch Ness Monster
Picture Taken: April 19, 1934

The story goes that on April 19, 1934, Colonel Robert Wilson, a respectable surgeon, was driving along Loch Ness when something in the water caught his eye. He quickly whipped out his trusty camera and took some pictures. Rumours and sightings of the Loch Ness Monster had created a media sensation in the early 1930s. When Wilson’s picture was published, believers seized it as the irrefutable proof that some kind of large beast lived in the lake. Wilson refused to be drawn into the speculation, never publishing the picture himself and refused to have his name associated with it. Therefore the picture became know as the “The Surgeon’s Photo”

Loch Ness

Loch Ness (Loch means Lake) is 37km (23 miles) long and more or less shaped like a big rectangle with an average width of 1.5km (about a mile). With a surface area of 56 km2, (22 miles2) Loch Ness is the second largest in Scotland terms of surface area. When you take into account how deep the lake is though, deepest part 226 m (740 feet), it is the largest by volume. It’s said that Loch Ness has as much fresh water as all of England and Wales. The city of Inverness is only a few kilometers north of the Loch. The area surrounding the Loch has a high peat content that drains into and makes the lake dark and murky. Even though the lake is cloudy it supports a variety of wildlife including salmon, eels, pike, sticklebacks, sturgeon, trout, seals, otters and supposedly Nessie.
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Ancient Monster

Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man
-St. Columba

The Scottish tribes who lived in the area, the Picts, named after their Painted bodies, have many legends about a monster that lived in Loch Ness. Some of their art recovered from archaeological finds show carving of a strange water beast. Ancient historians recorded almost 1500 years ago that St. Columba, who converted much of Scotland to Christianity, had an encounter with a monster. While attending a funeral for a man who had been killed while swimming in the lake St. Columba saw that a monster was approaching another man. The ancient historian, Adamnan reports that St Columba said, “ ’Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.’ Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes.”

It wasn’t till the 30’s that the Loch Ness legend spread outside rural Scotland. In the May 2, 1933, edition of the Inverness Courier it was reported that a Mr. and Mrs. John Mackay saw what they described as a huge animal splashing about before diving into the lake. This report sparked huge media interest throughout the country. All the major papers sent reporters to the Scottish backwater in hopes of catching a glimpse of the beast that would become to known by the nickname, “Nessie”. It was this media attention that solidified the belief some sort of monster lived in the depths of Loch Ness.

Sightings soon became commonplace and were helped by the fact that in the ’30s a new highway was built along the northern shoreline, allowing people to drive the length of the lake. One newspaper, The Daily Mail, hoping to catch the scoop hired a famous self-described big-game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell to investigate. He wasn’t able to bag the beast but he did find some huge tracks leading into the lake that he proudly displayed to the press. When the Natural History Museum tried to confirm the find they quickly discovered that the footprints had been a hoax made by a dried Hippo’s foot. Something that at the time was commonly used for umbrella stands. Wetherell was humiliated by being taken in by the prank and bitterly faded from the limelight but his link with Nessie didn’t stop there. It wasn’t until 1994 that Wetherell’s role in the creation of the Nessie legend became public.

Wetherell’s Revenge


Model of the Nessie Submarine


Alastair Boyd, a self-described true believer, who himself witnessed a huge beast in Loch Ness has spent years researching Nessie. In the early 90’s David Martin, a friend of Alastair came across an old 1975 article detailing a claim that Ian Wetherell, the son of Marmaduke Wetherell, claimed that the surgeon photo was a fake. They decided to investigate further and found the location of Marmaduke Wetherell surviving stepson Christian Spurling, as Ian Wetherell had already died. Christian Spurling when confronted with the story, aged 90 himself and on his deathbed, confessed that yes the surgeon picture was a hoax, and the mastermind behind it was, Marmaduke Wetherell.

Instead of continuing the search after the hippo foot incident, Wetherell decided to get even. Christian Spurling his stepson remembers him saying, “we’ll give them their monster”. Spurling, a professional model-maker, was asked by his stepfather to sculpt something that would fool the public. Starting with a toy submarine Spurling added a long neck and small head. He recounted that the mock-up, “was modelled on the idea of a sea serpent.” The finished product was about 45 cm long, and about 30 cm high with a lead keel for stability on the water. On a quiet day Marmaduke Wetherell his son Ian and stepson Christian Spurling went down to the lake were Ian took some pictures of the “monster”. As a finishing touch, Marmaduke Wetherell convinced Dr. Wilson to develop the photo and sell it to the Daily Mail to add respectability to the hoax. Wetherell knew Wilson through a mutual friend, Maurice Chambers, the same man Dr. Wilson claimed he was visiting when he talked about taking the Surgeon Photo to reporters in 1934.

Still has faith


I would actually stake my life on their existence
-Alastair Boyd

Even though Alastair Boyd uncovered the hoax, he still has faith. That one of the biggest pieces of evidence supporting the existence of Nessie was a lie hasn’t fazed him, “I am so convinced of the reality of these creatures that I would actually stake my life on their existence,” recalling how he himself has seen something in the lake, “I trust my eyesight … I used to make my living teaching people how to observe, and I know that the thing I saw was not a log or an otter or a wave, or anything like that. It was a large animal.”

After the “surgeon photo” emerged in the ’30s, the general consensus was that Nessie was a leftover from the dinosaurs, maybe an ancestor of the plesiosaurs, a huge dinosaur that used fin-like appendages to move through the water. The leftover dinosaur theory is discounted though because the plesiosaurs existed millions of years ago and the loch itself is only about 12,000 years old, created by glacier excavation during the last ice age. So what is Nessie? Before the “surgeon photo” early sighting reported a large gray animal with legs and a long neck. Intrigued by this pre-“surgeon photo” sighting another researcher, Dr. Clark, spent two years investigating the legend.

Nessie an elephant?

After finishing his research, Dr. Clark suggests that Nessie was created in the mind of one Bertram Mills, a circus promoter. Clark thinks that Nessie was a “magnificent piece of marketing” created when Mills saw his circus elephants washing. Circus fairs visiting the city of Inverness would stop on the shore of Loch Ness too, “allow their animals to rest. When their elephants were allowed to swim in the loch, only the trunk and two humps could be seen: the first hump being the top of the head and the second being the back of the animal.” When the Loch Ness Monster story broke Bertram Mills offered a £20,000 reward, £1 million in today’s money, to anyone who could catch the monster. That’s a lot of money to risk but not if you know that the monster is really a couple of elephants already in your circus. Then his £20,000 reward doesn’t become a reward it becomes an advertising tool for the circus, as newspapers around the world report about Bertram Mill circus’s offer.

BBC Investigation

top to bottom … and we saw no signs of any large living animal in the loch
-Ian Florence

In 2003 the BBC tried to answer the question once and for all. Using 600 individual sonar beams and satellite technology the BBC team surveyed the murky depths of Loch Ness. “We went from shoreline to shoreline, top to bottom on this one, we have covered everything in this loch and we saw no signs of any large living animal in the loch,” said Ian Florence, one of the experts brought onto the team. Another specialist, Hugh MacKay noted, “We got some good clear data of the loch, steep sided, flat bottomed – nothing unusual I’m afraid. There was an anticipation that we would come up with a large sonar anomaly that could have been a monster – but it wasn’t to be.”

Having failed to find a large sonar target the BBC team sought to explain the Loch Ness Monster in a different light, that Nessie was a self-perpetuating myth. People wanted to see the monster after hearing about it and they saw what they wanted to see. To prove this theory the BBC team created an experiment where a fence post was submerged underwater and then raised in front of a busload of tourists. When later asked to sketch what they had seen most drew a square fence shaped object but a few drew monster-head shapes.

Using the BBC data and other previous sonar expeditions, researchers were able to conclude that not enough prey stock would exist in Loch Ness to support any large animal. The Loch’s murky waters can’t support enough fish and other wildlife to support a number of large predators needed for a self-sustaining breeding population. Another nail into the legend of Nessie’s coffin is a report by the Italian geologist, Luigi Piccardi. Piccardi came to the conclusion that seismic activity below the lake causes underwater waves, groans, and gaseous explosions that have kept the myth of the Loch Ness Monster alive for years. His report is backed up by studies that show when there is seismic activity in the area Nessie sightings seem to spike. The people who flock to Loch Ness every year don’t seem to care about all the evidence against Nessie, with many Nessie sighting still reported every year. Indeed no matter what the truth behind the Loch Ness legend one thing is for certain, the Loch Ness monster is very good for the Scottish tourist industry.

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I Want To Believe

Behind the camera: X-Files production team
Where:
Photo Summary: UFO above some trees
Picture Taken:
Feeding off a popular cultural belief in the paranormal, extraterrestrial life and government cover-ups the TV show The X-Files exploded onto the television scene when it aired in 1993. Chris Carter the series creator said he was inspired to create the show after reading a survey suggesting that 3.7 million Americans believe they had been abducted. The shows main characters Skully and Mulder became superstars and the show developed one of the largest cult following in TV history (Only being beaten by the Star Trek franchise). The show’s slogans (“The Truth Is Out There,” “Trust No One,” “Deny Everything,” “I Want to Believe”) became pop culture catchphrases. The “I Want to Believe” slogan came from a poster that hung on Mulder’s wall making the poster a Famous Picture as it came to represent believers of extraterrestrial life.

The FIGU Community picture that some claim the original picture was based on.

Birth of the Poster

The X-Files production team has been silent on the origins of the “original” poster. However, a group calling themselves the FIGU Community have claimed that the picture is based on an actual UFO taken by their UFO researchers. As proof, they offer some photos supposedly from a series that some claim the original was taken from (Larger Pictures are found on the bottom right of the site). They offer the pictures in (BMP) form so that users can download make the picture their background image.

In the actual X-Files plot, the poster is destroyed by a fire in Mulder’s office in the last episode of Season 5.

Screenshot from season 1 showing the original poster.

In the middle of Season 6 in episode “Alpha”, Mulder meets a kindred spirit: Karin Berquist, a dog whisperer who has the same poster. She dies as a result of their investigation, but after his return back to Washington, Mulder receives a package, a poster tube, of her poster. In 2008 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History received a collection of objects including one of the set’s I want to believe posters for their exhibit.

X-Files

Created by Chris Carter the show first aired on FOX on September 10, 1993, and ended after a nine-year run on May 19, 2002.

To allow for easier merchandising the poster in Mulder’s basement office was changed to this UFO shot.

The X-Files was one of the network’s first major hits. In the series, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson play two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are tasked with investigating the so-called “X-Files.” These cases, marginalized by the FBI, often involve paranormal phenomena. Mulder plays the role of the “believer,” having faith in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully plays the skeptic, initially assigned by her departmental superiors to debunk Mulder’s unconventional work and contain its profound implications. As the show progressed both Mulder and Scully became embroiled in the same larger conflicts (termed “the mythology” or “mytharc” by the show’s creators) and developed a close and ambiguous friendship — which some fans, known as “shippers,” saw as more than platonic. The X-Files also featured many “monster of the week” episodes ranging in tone from horror to comedy, in which Mulder and Scully investigated unique, stand-alone cases that did not usually have long-term implications.

The show’s popularity peaked in the mid-to-late ’90s, even inspiring a hit movie in 1998. But in the last two seasons, Anderson became the star as Duchovny appeared rarely, and new central characters were introduced: FBI Agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish). At the time of its final episode, The X-Files was the longest running sci-fi show in American television history, a title since lost to Stargate SG-1.

Is the poster real?

The replacement poster shown in a screenshot taken from season 7

This version of the poster is the poster that was shown in the first season of the show hanging on the wall of Mulder’s basement FBI X-Files office. The poster was an original image created by the X-files production team and couldn’t be mass produced. To rectify this problem the X-Files merchandising team changed the poster by adding the “I want to believe” text to an existing UFO image. Other companies were quick to cash in on the confusion created their own versions so that now several “I want to believe” posters exist.

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American Girl in Italy

Behind the camera: Ruth Orkin
Where: Streets of Florence, Italy
Photo Summary: Ninalee Craig walking down a street surrounded by Italian men. She is wearing an orange shawl
Picture Taken: 1951
In 1951 Ruth Orkin was backpacking around Italy when she ran into another American, Ninalee Craig, doing the same thing at a cheap hotel in Florence, Italy. Talking the two decided to do a photo shoot on the streets of Florence. This, now iconic, shot is just one of many of Ninalee walking around the city while Orkin followed her and took shots Paparazzi style.

Taking the picture

After the two girls decided on doing the photo shoot they walked around the city taking pictures of Ninalee (then going by the name Jinx) doing various things. Craig remembers the two hours the shoot took as “we were literally horsing around.” While walking down a street Orkin noticed that the 6ft tall Craig was getting a lot of looks from the men hanging out there. She had Craig walk up and down the street and then captured this image. The daughter of Orkin who maintains the photographer’s collection after her death also confirms that the photo isn’t staged saying “She told the man on [the] motorcycle to tell the other men not to look at the camera,… But the composition, it just happened. And my mother got it. That’s what she was good at. … She didn’t take loads and loads of photos. She waited for shots.”

When asked if the men were harassing her or threatening her Craig said:

Very few of those men had jobs, Italy was recovering from the war and had really been devastated by it … I can tell you that it wasn’t the intent of any man there to harass me.
That young man [touching himself] is not whistling, by the way; he’s making a happy, yelping sound, And where you see him touching the family jewels, or indicating them, with his hand — well, for a long time that was considered an image people should not look at. That part was airbrushed out for years … But none of those men crossed the line at all.

Ninalee Craig



In 1951 a 23-year-old Ninalee Craig gave up her New York job and booked passage on a third-class ship going to Europe. Taking the name Jinx Allen for six months she toured through France, Spain, and Italy by herself. After about six months and spending less than a thousand American dollars Craig returned to her life in New York. She spent some time teaching before meeting an Italian widower and moving to Italy. The marriage didn’t last and so she returned to America where she met a Canadian and married again moving to Toronto in the 70s. “My life has been wonderful, I’m ready for more” says Craig.

Ruth Orkin

Ruth Orkin was born in 1921, Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of the silent film actress, Mary Ruby. At the age of 10 she took up photography and enjoyed a bit of fame after cycling from LA to New York, taking pictures along the way. She went on to become an American photographer, filmmaker and a late member of the Photo League. She married photographer and filmmaker Morris Engel. Together the made the critically acclaimed movie The Little Fugitive. She produced two photobooks, A A World Through My Window and More Pictures From My Window before dying from Cancer in New York on 16 January 1985.

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Kissing Couple

Behind the camera: Robert Doisneau
Where: Streets of Paris outside the Hotel de Ville
Photo Summary: Françoise Bornet and then boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posing for a kiss
Picture Taken: 1950

Titled “Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville,” or “Kiss at City Hall.” Robert Doisneau’s (pronounced ro-bear dwa-no.) picture has itself come to symbolize spontaneous acts of love and cement that Paris is the city of romance. In late 2000 Paris Match magazine called on young couples to recreate the kiss in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the picture. Doisneau took the snapshot of lust, in 1950, as part of a series on young love in Paris, for LIFE magazine. Over the years millions of copies of the image were sold as posters. One of the women who showed up for the reenactment said she has never really understood why Paris is seen as more romantic than other European cities. “But we must continue to perpetuate the image”

Rebirth

He didn’t want to shatter their dream
Why Robert Doisneau didn’t admit using models

After the picture appeared in the LIFE magazine series it lay forgotten for 31 years until a publisher called Doisneau asking to make a poster of the “Kiss at City Hall” shot. The poster was a huge hit, and soon posters and postcards were sold all over the world. The image brought Doisneau fame but it also brought a lot of headaches too. Since the success of the poster, many couples have come forward claiming to be the couple in the picture. Doisneau was not threatened by the claims, as he knew he had used models to pose for the kiss. In a 1992 interview, Doisneau said: “I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.”

Still, he greeted the claims with gentleness. His daughter Annette Doisneau, who worked as an assistant for Robert, remembers meeting one of the couples with her father. Even though he knew that their claim was false, “He said nothing,” she said. “I asked him why he hadn’t told them the truth. He said he didn’t want to shatter their dream.” Not denying the claims would cost Robert dearly. In 1993 Denise and Jean-Louis Lavergne took him to court claiming that they were the couple in the picture and demanding compensation for taking the picture without their knowledge.

Models come forward

The photo was posed. But the kiss was real
Ms Bornet the women in the shot

The lawsuit forced Robert to admit that the shot wasn’t spontaneous, he had indeed used models for the picture. With this admission, the lawsuit was dismissed. However his legal trouble didn’t end as the model that he used, Françoise Bornet then came forward and sued for a portion of the poster sales. This case too was thrown out when Robert provided evidence that she had been paid for posing in 1950. Françoise Bornet and then-boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posed for the picture after Robert had seen them kissing earlier in a café. Mrs. Bornet a former actress, now in her 70’s has revealed that her and Jacques’ relationship only lasted around 9 months. Even though they are forever linked in the picture as one of the most romantic couples they didn’t stay in touch. “I now think of it as a picture that should never really have existed,” Ms. Bornet said. She added maybe with regret: “The photo was posed. But the kiss was real.”

In 2005 she sold the original print, which bears the photographer’s authentic signature and stamp, that Robert Doisneau had sent her a few days after taking the shot. At the Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur auction, an unidentified Swiss collector paid 155,000 euros, more than 10 times what it was expected to fetch. A surprised Mrs. Bornet told the French media that she would use the proceeds to set up a film production company with her husband.
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Robert Doisneau


Robert Doisneau became one of Frances most prolific and popular photographers. He is known for his everyday shots of life in France’s cafés and streets. He once said that “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” Which is ironic considering that his most famous picture was staged. Critic’s have tried to marginalize his artistic reputation as a “cheerful chappie” who marched around happily taking pictures of whoever passed him by. However, this image has always annoyed those close to him. His daughter, Francine Doisneau, “Nothing could be further from the truth, … If you look closely at his work, you’ll see that the lightness, the carefree touch he strives for, aims to mask his own melancholy.” Doisneau own life was indeed anything but cheerful. Born in Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France 1912. He watched his father march off to World War I and then his mother died when he was seven. Raised by an aunt and then stepmother who never showed him the love that his mother did, he eventually trained as an engraver at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly. However, when he graduated he found that his training was out of date and useless. While working at a pharmaceutical firm he learned photography in the advertising department. He first started taking pictures as a hobbyist but soon he turned pro selling his first photo-story to the Excelsior newspaper in 1932 at the age of 20.

When World War II came around, he was first a member of the French Army and then the Resistance using his skills as an engraver to forge passports and identification papers. After the war, he did some freelance work for a number of international magazines including Life, and Vogue. Through Vogue, he became well known in the high-society fashion circles but Robert Doisneau didn’t go down in the books for his fashion photography but his “street photography”. Some of his favorite pictures were of street urchins and those whom he called “Urban Gallantry” (prostitutes). He used to wander the streets at night trying to capture those on the edge of French society. One of his favorite pictures, taken in 1935, is a near self-portrait of Doisneau as a street kid. A short film about his version of Paris, Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, was made in 1973. Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947, the Prix Niepce in 1956 and was a consultant to Expo ’67, Canada. He died on April Fools’ Day 1994.

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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 8, early morning of Sept 9, 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 4, 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. On August 4, 1962, Marilyn Monroe died between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at her home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. She was 36 years old. The cause of death based on the toxicology report was acute barbiturate poisoning.

Marilyn and Joe Dimaggio

We haven’t lost a star; we’ve gained a center fielder
-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.

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 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 the most-payed-for dress which was held by Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black dress from the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany‘s, which sold for $923,187.

Copyright images

AP Images handles the listening for some of the September 8, 1954, Seven Year Itch photos.

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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 pin-up 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.

Picture copyright


The Wikipedia Commons website claims this image is in the public domain.

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