Bob Willoughby: The Silver Age of Hollywood at Proud Chelsea

Last week was the launch party of the Bob Willoughby: The Silver Age of Hollywood photography exhibition at Proud Chelsea on King’s Road.

Bob Willoughby, who once worked for Harper’s Bazaar and who achieved his big break with his behind the scenes photos of Judy Garland’s A Star Is Born movie, has a catalogue of work that also involves films such as The Graduate, Rebel Without A Cause, My Fair Lady, Ocean’s Eleven and Rosemary’s Baby.

Willoughby’s Silver Age of Hollywood exhibition includes photos of rock stars like my favourite one of Elvis Presley and Sofia Loren.

But what is so immersive about this exhibition is that the photographs reveal the actors’ private sides in the light of their craft. There is a photo of Marilyn Monroe who seems to be processing her method acting approach to her acting role, just as James Dean looks like he is doing above.

The photo below is of Frank Sinatra focusing on his script. Being so used to seeing footage of Frank Sinatra as the entertainer, it is refreshing to see him on the job.

© Bob Willoughby

I also love the photo of Mia Farrow taking a nap on a sofa as Roman Polanski sifts through his notes. There is a bizarre sense of normality to this photo, given how dark Rosemary’s Baby is as a film.

The funny thing is that whilst Bob Willoughby exposes the artists by stripping them away from their characters, he places another layer of mystique upon them. He makes us want to delve deeper to understand further who these icons were.

Bob Willoughby: The Silver Age of Hollywood, Proud Chelsea, 8th November 2012 – 13th January 2013,


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