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Phil Stern: A Life's Work [Hardcover]

Phil Stern , Patricia Bosworth , Carol McCusker , Brett Ratner


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Book Description

October 1, 2003 1576871886 978-1576871881 Slp
Drawn to the iconic figures and emblematic events of our age, celebrated photographer Phil Stern has documented World War II soldiers in combat in North Africa and Sicily, the luminous jazz legends of Verve Records, and Hollywood stars living the high life. Collected for the first time in this amazing tribute to Stern’s long-standing legacy, Phil Stern: A Life’s Work features never-before-seen photographs of the greatest figures and times of the American twentieth century.

Stern, who enlisted in the army on December 7, 1941, joined the ranks of “Darby’s Rangers,” a much-heralded fighting unit, as combat photographer. In North Africa documenting the harsh and brutal battles against General Rommel’s forces, Stern was wounded. Awarded a Purple Heart for bravery, he was then reassigned to cover the invasion of Sicily for Stars and Stripes. Covering the homecoming of Darby’s Rangers for Life, the assignments Stern shot for the magazine brought him into another intrinsically American experience: Hollywood. At the same time, Stern worked intermittently for jazz label legend Norman Granz, photographing album covers for the Verve, Pablo, and Reprise record labels.

A golden-era industry insider par excellence, Stern was tapped by Frank Sinatra to be the official photographer for the JFK Inaugural Gala. His friendships with and access to the greatest legends of the time allowed him to create indelible portraits—most seen here for the first time—of James Dean, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Lester Young, among many others. Stern’s oeuvre is studded with classic figures of entertainment at its best; and in Phil Stern: A Life’s Work they come together to form a brilliant constellation around this truly star photographer.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From combat photographs of WWII's citizen soldiers, to jazz musicians and movie stars, this lavishly illustrated, 11.75" 14.5" collection of mid-century photojournalistic heavyweight Stern's work allows readers to examine every nuance: 180 crisp duotones and 60 full-color shots. Noted jazz critic Hentoff introduces Stern's groundbreaking photos of jazz greats, including moving shots of an elegant Ella Fitzgerald, an alternately exuberant and sober Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday toward the end of her life. Brett Ratner, director of Rush Hour, describes how Stern appeared on his set and took only five "brilliant" shots. WWII veteran Mitgang (Dangerous Dossiers) tells how "All our battle-hardened readers knew that when the credit on a picture read `Photo by PHIL STERN,' it was the real thing." Bosworth, a biographer of Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando, provides engaging background information on Stern's close associations with '50s Hollywood icons Frank Sinatra, James Dean-the famous shot with his sweater pulled up to his eyes is Stern's-and, oddly, John Wayne, whose right-wing politics were in total opposition to Stern's. While Stern, who is in his 80s and living in Los Angeles, is quoted as not caring to know most of the stars because "so many of them were frankly a pain in the ass," and many of his portraits are deliciously unflattering, his portraits of icons Dean, Brando and Monroe are shocking in their unposed intimacy. His photo of Brando strolling down the street in tight jeans and leather jacket is both fresh and classic, while a series of Dean laughing with friends in a diner make the viewer feel as though she or he is sitting in the booth too. Photos of Sammy Davis Jr. leaping on a rooftop are absolutely exhilarating-despite Stern's lack of knowledge of dance, his "uncanny sense of timing" allowed him to capture Davis's leaps and turns, as well as many other turns of the American mid-20th century.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Phil Stern, born in 1919, began his photography career in 1937 in New York City, working days as a studio apprentice and nights as a photographer for the Police Gazette. He later joined Friday magazine and was sent to L.A., where he began photographing Hollywood stars and freelancing for Life, Look, and Colliers magazines. After his World War II stint as a combat photographer, Stern returned to L.A., where he worked as both a freelance photographer and a “special” on the set of over 100 feature films, including Some Like it Hot, West Side Story, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? In 2001, Stern donated his library of Hollywood images to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The author of Phil Stern’s Hollywood (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), Stern lives in Los Angeles.

Patricia Bosworth is a critically acclaimed biographer whose works include Marlon Brando (Viking, 2001), Diane Arbus (W.W. Norton, 1995), Montgomery Clift (Harcourt, 1978), as well as her memoir, Anything Your Little Heart Desires (Simon & Schuster, 1997). Bosworth lives and works in New York City.

Nat Hentoff is a prolific author and journalist who has written numerous articles, essays, and books about politics, human rights, and his personal passion, jazz, in addition to his weekly column for The Village Voice. He now lives in New York City.

Herbert Mitgang practiced law in New York until he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the intelligence section in North Africa and Algeria, joining the main Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes, and earning six battle stars in the process. After the war, Mitgang joined the editorial board at The New York Times, initiating the "Op Ed" page and becoming their first publishing correspondent. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books; Slp edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576871886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576871881
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 14.4 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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