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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Early Studio Publicty Portrait by Ray Jones

This could be one of the earliest studio publicity headshots of Ann Blyth, taken in 1943 by Universal studio photographer Ray Jones.  She is about fifteen years old here, and had recently joined the studio ranks after concluding the nation-wide tour in Watch on the Rhine.

From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Black and white photography perhaps reached its zenith as creative art form in the Hollywood studios—but especially still photography that sculpted the stars images with light and shadow and glamorized them as persons of almost supernatural beauty.  One of the very best of the artists was photographer Ray Jones, head of the Stills Photo unit of the Publicity Department at Ann’s home studio of Universal.  An excellent survey of his work and the function of a studio portrait photographer is discussed in author Tom Zimmerman’s Light and Illusion – The Hollywood Portraits of Ray Jones.  The author describes Jones’ studio in the Stills Building on the Universal lot, where he was in charge of a staff of fifty-four people. 

 There were three dressing rooms in his studio where the stars were prepared for their photo shoots: for body makeup, for face and hair, and for clothes.  Grips worked under Jones’ direction to set the lights and enormous 8 x 10 view camera.

 Ann Blyth recalled for the author that photo sessions usually lasted all day, and along with other stars, complimented Ray Jones on his ability to put his subjects at ease, to inspire their confidence.  They were placing their image, and whatever insecurity or doubtfulness they brought with them to the photo shoot, in his capable hands.

 Jones remarked in a 1952 interview about photographing starlets:

“Of the current crop, Ann Blyth has the most perfect face to photograph.  She also has one of the best figures, but she won’t let me do cheesecake of her.”

The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on, and on Amazon and iTunes.

Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.

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