Los Angeles photographer Phil Stern turns 90 tomorrow. That's his photo of Frank Sinatra lighting JFK's smoke. Vanity Fair celebrates the big day with an online piece by David Friend:
The photographs of Phil Stern, intimate chronicler of Hollywood and the jazz scene, convey an ease of access and an insider’s collusion that are virtually unknown in today’s Potemkin-village L.A. Back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, before publicists ruled by fiat and photo op, certain superstars understood that when a charming guy with a camera came to call, the coolest thing to do was just to let him hang out. They recognized the value, and street cred, that came from a behind-the-scenes photo essay in a glossy picture magazine. And so they often gravitated to straight-shooting Phil Stern, who worked for Life and Look and Collier's. Studio moguls like Samuel Goldwyn and Jack Warner let Stern into their inner sanctums. So did jazzmen like Art Tatum and Dizzy Gillespie. And supernovae such as Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, and John Wayne.
“Wayne and I were poster boys for The Odd Couple,” says Stern, who turns 90 on September 3 and who has lived for years in a cluttered bungalow near the Paramount lot in Los Angeles. In the 60s, he and Wayne caroused through Europe, Africa, and Mexico. “Politically and socially, he was 140 degrees to the right of Genghis Khan. I was oppositely inclined. He’d call me a bomb-throwing Bolshevik. It was a love-hate thing. We’d get in big arguments, especially with a little booze in us.”
More over there. Sounds like a fun guy. His career was resurrected by Graydon Carter at Spy magazine in the late '80s.
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