Size: 16" (40.32cm) x 20" (50.4cm) Open Edition
Frank Sinatra at a Capitol Records recording session circa 1954.
Shot by Sid Avery
Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1918, Sid Avery was just nine months old when his family moved to Los Angeles. There, his uncle Max Tatch, a landscape and architectural photographer, taught him about cameras, film and darkrooms, and Avery was hooked.
After graduating from Roosevelt High School, he worked at a camera store on Sunset Boulevard where he met many well-known photographers who further inspired him to take evening classes in photography and work as a darkroom assistant. By 1939, he opened his own portrait studio.
When he entered the Army in World War II, Avery was sent to London and placed in charge of the Army Pictorial Service Laboratory, where all the still and combat footage coming out of the European theater passed through his hands.
Back home after the war, he returned to shooting movieland stars and became known for his revealing portraits of actors in their downtime. One of his most famous photos shows Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall relaxing at home with their children and dogs; in another, Marlon Brando is depicted carrying out the garbage from his tiny rented house; in yet another, a bare-chested Rock Hudson drips sex appeal as he stands talking on the phone after a shower, wearing only a towel. Avery would make history of a kind as the only photographer to shoot the stars of the original 1960 “Ocean’s Eleven” as well as the 2001 remake.
Avery eventually became one of the top advertising photographers in Los Angeles, then a director of television commercials, receiving numerous awards. In the ‘80s, he directed his energies toward preserving the history of Hollywood as depicted in still photography, founding the non-profit Hollywood Photographers Archive. Eventually comprising some 150,000 photographs, the archive was in 1987 donated to Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Avery then began rebuilding the collection under the name, the Motion Picture and Television Photo Archive. Now known as MPTV, it represents more than fifty of Hollywood’s best-known photographers.
Sid continued with his work at MPTV until his death in 2002.
Biography by Shawn Levy, taken from The Rat Pack.