Friday Photos: True Hollywood Confessions

In 1950 when 17 year old Elizabeth Taylor showed up in the Paramount lot to shoot A Place in the Sun, people were so astonished by her beauty that there was a subdued silence wherever she went. But then she entered the Writer’s Building and writer-director Billy Wilder glanced at her and cracked: “How the hell did she ever get into motion pictures?”

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A fashion photo by George Platt Lynes for Vogue, 1944


Rick McGinnis
Ellen Burstyn, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2007
Back in 2002 Ellen Burstyn asked me to write a movie for her. She had found the property and was serving as star and coproducer. I said yes without hesitation because I was a huge fan of Ellen’s work. The film, produced for ShowTime, is called Within These Walls and also stars Laura Dern. Both women deliver outstanding performances. The funny thing about this movie, at least for me, is that dogs play a major role in the narrative. I am not a dog person. But the truth is that the dogs in the film are just a way to dramatize and amplify human emotion. It’s a genuinely effective film about crime, guilt, punishment, prison, and some measure of redemption. It was a distinct honor and joy to work with Ellen.


While shooting his films director George Steven would frequently break off a scene, then take a long break and just walk around thinking, not saying a word to anybody. No one knew what was going on in his mind during these extended breaks. Finally, Ginger Rogers, with whom he was having an affair during the production of Swing Time (’36), announced to the crew: “I know exactly what George is thinking about. Nothing. Absolutely, f***ing nothing.”


Paul Signac (France, 1863–1935)
Woman With Umbrella
oil on canvas
Height: 81 cm (31.8 in); Width: 65 cm (25.5 in)
Musée d’Orsay


Model wearing a hat and coat by British designer Edward Molyneux in a 1936 photo by Cecil Beaton


1930 Cadillac V16 452-A Roadster


In 1955 James Dean, 24, and Ursula Andress, 19, went on a few awkward dates. Said Andress about Dean: “He a boy, not a man.”


James Nares, Untitled, 2008, Oil on board
14 x 11 in.


Lauren Bacall in a 1943 photo by John Engstead for Harper’s Bazaar. It was this photo that led to her discovery by director Howard Hawks and a starring role in his film To Have and Have Not in 1944 where she met and fell in love with Humphrey Bogart. © The Kobal Collection


Jozef Israëls, Dutch (1824–1911)
A Jewish Wedding
oil on canvas
53 15/16 x 58 1/4 in. (137 x 148 cm)
Current location


Lielle Meital wishes all our friends and relatives a lovely and inspirational Shabbat.


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  1. Bill Brandt
    Posted July 6, 2018 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I’d have to say seeing in Giant and East of Eden I couldn’t see anything special. I think getting killed can put one into iconic status. Or am I too cynical?

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  2. Posted July 6, 2018 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Robert – I’m always glad when you have a story to go with one of my portraits of “Hollywood people.” My encounters with them are usually very – very – brief.
    Rick McGinnis recently posted..The End of FilmMy Profile

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted July 6, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Rick – Great portrait of Ellen. We worked together for close to a year on Within These Walls. Ellen is one of the most talented and hard working actors in Hollywood. My respect and affection for her is limitless. It would mean a great deal to me if you could send me a hard copy of this portrait — to join your Sidney Lumet picture.

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  3. Posted July 6, 2018 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    Bravo, Robert, bravo…

    I think my favorite is the photo of James Dean and Ursula Andress. He looks like a boy and she looks like a woman… a woman to be reckoned with.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted July 6, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

      I confess: I’m not a James Dean fan. I His acting is just awful, and he sounds like a terrible person from everything I’ve read about him.

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      • Posted July 6, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        I agree about Dean. Did I read that Ursula was also dating Brando at the same time as Dean?

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        • Robert J. Avrech
          Posted July 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Ursula first dated Brando. Dean probably asked her out because he was obsessed with Brando and imitated him in every manner right down to playing the recorder and bongos. Dean annoyed the hell out of Brando. Rock Hudson absolutely loathed Dean. But Sal Mineo worshipped Dean as did Dennis Hopper.

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