Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hollywood in Kodachrome

This week, I received a book called Hollywood in Kodachrome by David Wills and Stephen Schmidt. In short, it is a fantastic coffee table book of vintage celebrity photographs. 

Kodachrome film was first used in the 1940s and was the first time people were seeing Hollywood stars in color. It brought new life to Hollywood and boosted the careers of those actors and actresses with colorful appearances, such as my personal favorite, Lucille Ball. With her milky skin, fiery red hair, and bright blue eyes finally on display, she was being cast in better films and given the nickname "Technicolor Tessie." In fact, Hollywood in Kodachrome dedicates a whole section to Lucille with 12 stunning color photographs.

This book is filled with beautifully restored photographs that are bursting with color and detail. The moment I saw a sampling of photographs on Vanity Fair's website, I knew I had to buy Hollywood in Kodachrome. The book displays over 200 publicity shots, movie stills, magazine covers and more all from 1940 to 1949. Every 1940s celebrity you can think of grace the pages of Hollywood in Kodachrome, from Rita Hayworth to Frank Sinatra, Betty Hutton to Humphrey Bogart. The photographs in the book are by all the big Hollywood photographers like George Hurrell, Bernard of Hollywood and Ernest Bachrach, just to name a few.

There are six total chapters of photography in Hollywood in Kodachrome. Chapter one is titled When Goddesses Roamed The Earth. This chapter, as you can imagine, reveals dazzling photos of all of Hollywood's most beautiful women: Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, Jane Russell, and more. The next chapter Light and Illusion is over 120 pages illustrating the use of light in photography to showcase celebrity faces. Technicolor Tessie, as I mentioned before, comes third. Imagine living in the 1940s and seeing Lucille in bright color for the first time! The Posed Candid is the fourth chapter, and it's just as it seems. People wanted to see celebrities in their homes or doing normal everyday tasks, so photographers posed their subjects in casual settings. Here we see Alan Ladd carving a turkey, Ed Sullivan and Clark Gable golfing together, and Maureen O'Hara cuddling two puppies. Stars and Stripes displays Bing Crosby and Ann Miller in their red, white, and blue during the World War II era, Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda in their military uniforms, and John Wayne and James Cagney in stills from WWII movies. Lastly, Selling the Dream is full of celebrity endorsements. They've been around as long as there has been movie stars and products which need selling! Many times an advertisement would have the celebrity boasting the product and their latest picture at the same time. Hedy Lamarr sells makeup, Betty Grable tempts us with a cold Royal Crown soda, and a young Marilyn Monroe demonstrates how gorgeous prints from your personal collection of slides can look!  
Gene Tierney by Jack Albin

Ava Gardner by Clarence Sinclair Bull

Cary Grant by Ernest Bachrach

Danny Kaye and the Goldwyn Girls

Errol Flynn by George Hurrell

Fred Astaire by Eric Carpenter

Gregory Peck by Madison Lacy

Guy Madison and Shirley Temple by Bob Beerman

John Wayne

Lucille Ball by Eliot Elisofon

Marlene Dietrich by Al "Whitey" Schafer

Rita Hayworth by Robert Coburn

Ronald Reagan

Frank Sinatra by Pagano

Yvonne De Carlo by Ray Jones

David Wills and Stephen Schmidt signing copies
of Hollywood in Kodachrome

My newly discovered favorite photo is also featured right in the middle of Light and Illusion (the photo is credited to Clarence Sinclair Bull). I gasped when I saw it in all its glory! I will own a print of it someday.

I am so elated this book is in my collection. I adore coffee table books that are full of Old Hollywood photos. I appreciate the value of Old Hollywood. We don't get to see this type of glamour, elegance, and poise in today's Hollywood. I'm so thankful to David and Stephen for taking the time to find and restore all these images, making sure they are preserved and giving the proper credit to all the wonderful photographers of yesteryear who worked so hard to make an art out of photography. Hollywood in Kodachrome is a must-have!

Until next time,

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