Artist Spotlight: George Hurrell

By Christopher Harrity

Originally published on Advocate.com October 19 2013 4:00 AM ET

Gay artist and writer Mark A. Vieira's book George Hurrell's Hollywood connects golden age photographer Hurrell's story to both Hollywood and gay history. The book is a treasure trove of Hurrell images. It's also a frank biography of the artist, with revelations about his personal life and his art-world  dealings. Interesting information is gleaned from exclusive interviews with Hurrell intimates such as gay film director Paul Morrissey. Some of it comes from Viera's 1970s diary entries. None of it has been published.

The story of Hurrell's comeback is inextricably linked with gay history. He was rediscovered by the gay writer John Kobal. Vieira met both  Hurrell and Kobal through Los Angeles movie-still collectors, all of whom were gay, and many of whom exacted quid pro quo from young men  looking for work in the film industry. Vieira describes the inner workings of this society in detail.

With a foreword by Sharon Stone, Vieira's book gives deep insight into not only the people that Hurrell photographed but his meticulous techniques and working habits.

Hurrell worked with the era's biggest names — both on-screen and behind-the-scenes luminaries. Many were gay, bi, or just plain ambitious: Ramon Novarro, Greta Garbo, William Haines, Gilbert Adrian, Marie Dressler, Cedric Gibbons, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Clifton Webb, Tallulah Bankhead, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Anna May Wong.

In both text and photos, the book pays special attention to Hurrell's most stellar muses: Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Jean Harlow.

George Hurrell's Hollywood will be published  November 5 by Running Press

Find the book on Amazon here.


Ramon Novarro, 1929


Marie Dressler, 1931


Johnny Weissmuller, 1932


Norma Shearer, 1935


Anna May Wong, 1938


John Payne, 1939


Errol Flynn, 1939


Bette Davis, 1941


Rare images of Joan Crawford, before and after retouching.


John Kobal, 1970


George Hurrell and Mark A.Vieira, 1976


Aretha Franklin, 1980


Grace Jones and Dolph Lundgren, 1984