Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Mae West: Eugene R. Richee
MAE WEST was photographed by the best.
• • During the Depression, when a lack of employment impacted on the boxoffice, Hollywood studios - - in an effort to establish a dedicated fan base for their actors and actresses - - sent out thousands of still photos to newspapers.
• • Photographer Eugene Robert Richee was employed by Paramount Studios between 1925 and 1935. He took pictures of Mae West chiefly for "She Done Him Wrong" and "Belle of the Nineties." Beginning in 1932, he took head-to-toe studies of the Brooklyn bombshell as well as several eye-catching close-ups of Mae in millinery.
• • He also often photographed Louise Brooks, whose striking hair-do made her one of his favorite Hollywood subjects. Additionally, Richee did striking portraits of Veronica Lake, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Clara Bow, Kay Francis, Carole Lombard, and other stars. One of Richee's trademarks was his placement of lights, especially the tiny finishing spots that highlighted hair and cast long eyelash shadows onto cheeks. You can see an example of that trick in his portraits of Marlene Dietrich.
• • The Museum of Modern Art undercut Richee's reputation by their sly habit of reproducing photos with a credit line that named only MOMA's Film Archive. Unfortunately, Richee's name is less well-known than it ought to be - - but his pictures speak for themselves. With a still camera, he invented fantasy images whose sheen and seduction became the ultimate Hollywood trademark.
• • Eugene Robert Richee died in 1972.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1934 • • by Eugene R. Richee