Intimate and playful, but technically proficient, John R. Hamilton's photographs of some of the greats of the silver screen both elevate them as legends and yet make them accessible at the same time.
At this exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery at the Sunset Marquis Hotel on the Sunset Strip in West Hollwood, we get a chance to gaze again at images of era-defining beauty and talent. John R. Hamilton started out as a magazine photojournalist, but he achieved fame as a special photographer on films. The first movie Hamilton worked on was the classic The Searchers in 1956, and throughout his career he worked on some 77 films. Hamilton's work covered all genres -- he shot Elvis in Vegas, the Beatles in America, and Elizabeth Taylor dressed as a batgirl at a charity baseball game. The list of leading men and women Hamilton photographed reads like a "Who's Who" of America's most iconic stars.
Archival digital prints are available for purchase at the exhibit with a percentage of the sales benefiting the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. The exhibit runs through February 22.
Kirk Douglas, location site for There Was a Crooked Man, Indio, Calif., 1970 (c) John R. Hamilton, 1970 Kirk's home away from home. Kirk Douglas in his trailer "yard," at the location site for There Was a Crooked Man. 40 miles outside Indio, Calif., is the Colorado Desert smack in the middle of the Joshua Tree National Monument. The actors were housed in trailers during the location and the prop men on the film became so fond of Kirk that they began redecorating and adding to his. First they put up an awning and a picket fence, then an umbrella'd patio set, a working fountain pool, then a mailbox, and finally the inevitable signs warning peddlers and visitors alike. In the background is the helicopter he uses to fly back and forth from his home in Palm Springs to the location site.
Isaac Hayes, breakfast nook at home, Los Angeles, 1971 (c) John R. Hamilton, 1971 Notes from John R. Hamilton: "Isaac Hayes's home was an 18-room California modern bungalow on 2 1/2 acres of land on one of the canyon roads linking Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley."
"In 1971 his record 'Shaft' won a Grammy and an Academy Award. Isaac Hayes has been given the title King of Soul, and he has a famous wardrobe to go with the title. When he wears his full-length white mink coat, his fans go wild and chant, 'Here comes the King of Soul, the King of Soul is here.'"
"Isaac Hayes's breakfast nook in his Los Angeles home is patterned in colorful red strawberries on a green and white background. The dining room is wallpapered and the same wallpaper can be found on the dining table. It just knocks me out."
Shirley MacLaine's Mirror Madness II, Los Angeles, 1960 (c) John R. Hamilton, 1960 Notes from John R. Hamilton: "It all started quite innocently one day when Shirley MacLaine wandered into the bathroom to take a shower and shampoo her hair. The mirror delayed her. Grabbing a towel she was back at the mirror, this time to see how she would look as a harem girl, a sphinx, or a one-eyed pirate ... her towel proved excellent for each of these purposes. Shirley spent half a day posing for me in her bathroom."
Elizabeth Taylor, Hollywood Stars Baseball Game, 1949 (c) John R. Hamilton, 1949 Elizabeth Taylor (16 years old) as a batgirl at the Hollywood Stars Baseball Game, Los Angeles. Notes from John R. Hamilton: "I was photographing a Hollywood Stars charity baseball game when Elizabeth Taylor made an appearance as one of the batgirls. I went nuts. She looked to be about 16 years old. I was so close to her! What excitement! Her beauty was present even in a plain baseball uniform. My eyes were riveted on her during that baseball game. I guess you would have to say that I had a bad case of supply love, out of control. It's true, I am guilty."