Mitzi Transformed by Wizard of Oz Make-up Artist Jack Dawn

I am fascinated by amber that contains a trapped primordial insect inside. One moment it is minding its own business on a tree, the next, it is captured in a rolling drop of sticky sap. A millenia later we can hold this same moment in time as fossilized amber in our hands. For me, my … Continue reading Mitzi Transformed by Wizard of Oz Make-up Artist Jack Dawn

Mitzi Joins the MGM Star Factory

Oh, that smile... My grandmother Mitzi is probably in her early 20s in this photo and appears to be signing in at MGM's employee entrance. From the smile, and with a photo to document the occasion, she may very well be doing this for the first time. There's naturally a fine line between nepotism and … Continue reading Mitzi Joins the MGM Star Factory

Friends? Lovers? Enemies? Yes.

"...these people lived lives - were friends, were lovers, were enemies. They bickered, they shouted, the cried, they laughed. They went home, flopped down, dropped hats, kicked off shoes and sighed. " Updated 30 July, 2012: Here is another sensational 1920's photograph from our family's collection. Like the one of Ruth Harriet immediately below it, … Continue reading Friends? Lovers? Enemies? Yes.

My Great Gatsby moment

My Great Gatsby moment

Ruth Harriet, MGM glamour photographer from 1925 - 1930 I have just watched the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's new movie The Great Gatsby. A gorgeous looking remake if I've ever seen one. Baz has channelled the 1920's and once again I found myself thinking that if ever there was a time I wished I had experienced, it was those magical years of singular expression in fashion, film, art, literature, architecture, dance and design generally. With this on my mind, I then went through my family's collection of photographs and was stopped in my tracks by a photo that appeared to summarize this time in one magical shot. I looked a little closer and realized that I was looking at a portrait of a portrait master, Ruth Harriet who worked as MGM's portrait photographer for only five years but is responsible for thousands of glamorous photos of the stars of the day. In 1930 she retired, for reasons I don't know, and only ten years later she died from complications of childbirth. Now, have a look at The Great Gatsby trailer and I hope you see the same thing I did in this amazing portrait of Ruth Harriet. The Great Gatsby trailer, Director Baz Luhrmann

Hot-desking with Louis B Mayer

UPDATE: 2 June, 2012 - When I initially added this post I didn't know who the other man is sharing uncle Louis' desk in his office at MGM. Thanks to my aunt who emailed me recently, I now know this is William Powell, a major star who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best … Continue reading Hot-desking with Louis B Mayer