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Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits, National Portrait Gallery | reviews, news & interviews

Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

Perfection on a glass plate: how the stars were shot before paparazzi

Vivien Leigh in 'Waterloo Bridge', 1940, airbrushed to virginal perfectionLaszlo Wallinger. All images © John Kobal Foundation

In the days before there were any paparazzi to catch celebrities unawares, the pictures of the stars that reached mere mortals like ourselves were carefully staged by the film studios. Establishments like MGM, Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures employed stills photographers to produce atmospheric shots of the action as it unfolded on the set and to make studio portraits of individual actors for release to adoring fans.

The archetypal female star resembled an empty page on which men could inscribe their desires

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