The Unfamous of Hollywood — George Hurrell — He Acts While You Pose (1934) 🇺🇸

George Hurrell |

February 02, 2022

When a star goes to George Hurrell to have his pictures taken, he may expect him to do everything from acrobatics to the singing of a duet. If he isn’t hanging from the chandeliers to get an unusual photographic angle he is playing peek-a-boo with you from behind the large phonographic machine, which is as much a part of his studio as his fine cameras and his innumerable lights.

by Ramon Romero

You have no doubt seen hundreds of Hurrell’s photographs in the rotogravures of magazines and Sunday supplements; beautiful studies of Hollywood’s elite: soft-focused, divinely lighted, superbly relaxed. If only you could see all of the antics that Hurrell goes through for his subjects to get the desired effect you would wonder if he hadn’t missed his calling. He might have been one of the greatest comedians in the movies!

By reputation the most exclusive photographer of movie celebrities, he gets $25.00 for each negative that he shoots. Considering the show that he gives with it, it’s cheap at that. Hurrell’s energetic, peppy personality acts as a stimulant. After a Hurrell sitting one is never tired, except from laughing.

If Lupe Vélez has the right to be called the Mexican jumping bean of Hollywood, George Hurrell has twice the right, although he isn’t a Mexican, yet.

For three years he shot all the stars at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, photographically speaking. But his genius demanded individual expression, and so he opened up his own studio and practically ruined every other studio in town. All of the stars from the Culver City studio still go to him. He has seen Garbo yawn more times than any man alive.

Joan Crawford is his favorite subject. He never has to act for her. She can keep him so interested with all the poses that she strikes that he hasn’t time to do any of his own acting.

His next favorite is Jean Harlow. And Robert Montgomery is his pet male subject.

When Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt was in Hollywood recently she came to him for a sitting. He was that proud to display her photograph in his window for all Hollywood to see. It isn’t every motion picture photographer who can shoot the first lady of the land and get away with it!

He says that a good picture, unretouched, is as good as a screen test — even better, for it is more revealing, more cruel and scrutinizing than a series of pictures in motion. But he blushes to confess how many need retouching.

He always plays music when he is working’. There’s rhythm in his plates.

Collection: New Movie Magazine, February 1934

This article is part of our Unfamous of Hollywood series: Gilmor BrownNatalie BucknellBebe Daniels & Pauline GallagherHoward DietzElmer DyerGeorge HurrellBilly HillSally RandMurray SpivackGeorge E. Stone

see also Still Photographers — Magic in a Magic City (1925)