They're all here: Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, James Dean... Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe... the gods and goddesses of the silver screen brought to London in an exceptional exhibition of photographs from Hollywood's Golden Age, the period from 1920 to 1960. Many of these portraits are the images that transformed the actors and actresses into international fashion icons whose fame and glory still endure today.
Entitled Glamour of the Gods. Portraits of Hollywood, the exhibition is open to the public until 23 October, at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, just off Trafalgar Square, London. It showcases over 70 photographs drawn from the extraordinary archive of the John Kobal Foundation. The majority of the photos are vintage prints on display for the first time and the exhibition demonstrates the central role played by photography in creating and maintaining the classic Hollywood mystique before the days of the paparazzi.
From a 1919 portrait of Gloria Swanson for Male and Female through to a 1959 photograph of Elizabeth Taylor for Suddenly, Last Summer, the portraits are drawn from four decades of Hollywood at its best.
Among the works is a gloriously sensuous 1926 image showing Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in Flesh and the Devil. The picture, taken by Bert Longworth to promote the film, gives a glimpse of the real passion and romance shared by the couple off screen as well as on. A previously unseen portrait of Clark Gable and Joan Crawford by George Hurrell for the romantic musical Dancing Lady, dates from 1933 and depicts two of the most celebrated stars of the moment.
Iconic images from the Forties include one of Rita Hayworth in the title role of Gilda, the ultimate femme fatale, while the Fifties bring us Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and the unforgettable James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Other events are being run in conjunction with the exhibition, including the screening of films from the Twenties to the Sixties and, on 7th October, a late night extra, The Glamour Factory, when the museum will be transformed into a movie studio and you can take a look behind the scenes, and pick up some tips to help you become a Hollywood star.
Glamour of the Gods. Hollywood Portraits
Location: National Portrait Gallery, London
Date: Until October 23