Image Above: Phil Stern, Robert Aldrich, Casting Pin Up Girl for Attack, 1947 © Phil Stern, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles Phil “Snapdragon” Stern the Wartime photographer who captured the joys and horrors of war and who later became renowned for his images of the Hollywood elite, President John F. Kennedy and Jazz legends such as Nat King Cole has died on Saturday. He was 95.
Phil Stern, Marilyn Monroe and Jack Benny, Childrens Benefit, Shrine Auditorium, 1953 © Phil Stern, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Phil Stern, James Dean (Pull Over Sweater), 1955 © Phil Stern, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Nearly killed by shrapnel in Northern Africa during World War 2 and nearly missing James Dean with his car after the star ran a red light on Sunset Boulevard, Stern always attributed his success to being at the right place at the right time.
Stern started out as an apprentice in New York City photo studio and darkroom, his nights as a photographer for the “Police Gazette”. When war broke out he was assigned to a photographic unit in London then volunteered for “Darby’s Rangers” as a combat photographer. It was only after the war that he would go on to become iconic for his work in Hollywood.
Phil Stern, Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy, Kennedy Inaugural, Washington, D.C. 1961 © Phil Stern, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Self described as the “plumber” who comes and fixes your toilet and disappears after the job is done, Stern didn't care to know most of the famous people he shot.
When asked to reflect on his many accomplishments by Breitbart News Stern said, "I'm delighted to be able to breathe at this age." and left us with some final words of advice "Keep breathing."
Phil Stern, Anita Ekberg (Holding Back the Light), 1955 © Phil Stern, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Text by Lee Burrell