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Lives of the stars, in close-up

A world of Hollywood photographs

Lives of the stars, in close-up

By Paul Clinton
Special to CNN

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Beginning in the early 1940s, a small photography agency called Globe Photos relocated from Germany to New York City, fleeing a war on one continent and embracing opportunity in another.

It was a timely move. Before long, Hollywood, needing thousands upon thousands of photographs to help promote an unending parade of new films and new stars for its enormous publicity machine, came calling.

It was a relationship made in celluloid heaven.

Globe soon had a Hollywood bureau with photographers working around the clock documenting the privileged lives of movie stars. They captured the stars at home, at play, at rest, recording a time in Hollywood that has come and gone.


And, in some ways, they preserved a time that never was.

Now a special, large-edition, coffee-table book of some of the best of more than 15 million photos, covering the 60 years of Globe's love affair with Hollywood, has been created by Globe vice-president and West Coast bureau chief Richard DeNeut. "Inside Hollywood: 60 Years of Globe Photos" (Konemann) is a peek into a world where journalists, photographers and the studio press machine all worked hand-in-hand to sell Tinseltown's manufactured magic to the world.

"In the very early days, the magazines and the studios worked together," DeNeut says. "They were all eager to promote something and everything was positive."

Changing times

That world changed very quickly with the debut in the early 1950s of the first American tabloid, Confidential magazine, DeNeut says. Paparazzi had come to America, and they were working for Confidential, catching celebrities at unguarded moments.

"Suddenly there was a magazine that didn't play ball with the studios to get those stories out," he says. "It also whetted the appetite of the readership out there, and it changed the editorial content of every publication that you've seen since, including Reader's Digest."

But Globe photographers resisted the call to hide in bushes or lurk outside restaurants. Their employer continued working with the studios to help the stars turn their best -- and guarded -- faces to the public.

"Inside Hollywood" contains page after page of photos showing the stars seemingly relaxing and having fun with each other -- and with the camera. It was a time when the studios had more success in controlling information and image than they do now, DeNeut says.

"The columnists and the journalists that were working in Hollywood knew the dirt but didn't publish it in those days," he says. "It was kind of a gentleman's agreement."

The book is divided into three sections that show stars at work, at play and at home. The emphasis is on Hollywood's early days, but the book also contains photos of current celebrities.

Stars in action

Many images show the famous involved in some type of action. From bowling to basketball, from swimming to running, celebrities were caught on the run, seemingly at unguarded moments.

But appearances were deceiving, says DeNeut.

"The editors had three cries," he says. " 'Show 'em eating, show 'em dancing, show 'em kissing,' because they were sure that they would get a printable shot if it was in one of those three categories, because there is automatic action going on in those three situations."

The book also shows children of stars who later became luminaries themselves, back when they were young and innocent about the ways of Hollywood. There are charming childhood shots of Timothy Hutton with his father Jim; Henry Fonda with Jane and Peter; Jamie Lee Curtis with mother Janet Leigh and father Tony Curtis; and Carrie Fisher with Debbie Reynolds and father Eddie Fisher. The list goes on and on.

"In those days there wasn't usually any kind of restriction on family life," recalls DeNeut. "Now performers will bring a photograph of a newborn and hold it up to a photographer ... to get a picture of the baby and that suffices."

Those days are gone, and DeNeut says he misses them. "It's almost like you're forced to have fun today," he muses. "You're not really having it. We use to cover so many private things, and they were having fun in those days. I don't know how much fun is out there now."

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