Between 1910-1970, more than 300 still photographers worked in Hollywood, many of them skilled artists who produced stunning black-and-white portraits that turned stars into objects of fantasy, aspiration and longing.
Today the works of these consummate professionals – who painted with light and shade – fetch high prices on auction.
The atmospheric study of the legendary actress Carole Lombard (above), for example, fetched $2000 (nearly R30000) on auction in Los Angeles.
Lombard’s photographer was Eugene Robert Richee, who headed Paramount’s portrait studio from its inception.
Richee, unsung in his day, is now regarded as one of the finest “masters of starlight”, and his portraits of Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow and other superstars of the early 20th century are much sought-after.
Richee started at Paramount in 1921 and stayed for 20 years, then left left to take a position at Warner Brothers.
He died in 1972.