sun 20/10/2019

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

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.