We Had Faces: Stars from Hollywood

December 9, 2017 - March 18, 2018
Yarbrough Gallery

  • Jean Harlow, Dinner at Eight (Detail)
    Silver gelatin print
    1933
    Gift of Georgoe W. Dudley, Jr.
    G.1991.17.241

Today, in an era when actors can be photographed by any fan with a cell phone, glamorous, classical Hollywood studio photographs may seem oddly alien. These perfect, precisely arranged, and frequently retouched photographs were extremely important in establishing an image for each Hollywood star, and they included both formal portraits and staged movie publicity shots. Every star’s public image was carefully maintained in the old studio system, and it was not until the 1950s that candid images also began to appear.

The photographs in “We Had Faces!” Stars from Old Hollywood include examples by leading Hollywood photographers such as Clarence Sinclair Bull, George Hurrell, and Laslo Willinger. The late George W. Dudley, Jr., who grew up in Columbus and was president of the American Postcard Company in New York, donated most of the photographs in this exhibition to The Columbus Museum in 1991 as part of a larger gift. Ranging from 1918 to 1957, the images on view include publicity photographs from classic Hollywood films such as Dinner at Eight and Suspicion, portraits of stars such as Gloria Swanson, Hedy Lamarr, and Gary Cooper, and more candid photographs of 1950s icons James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn.

“We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces! There just aren’t faces like that anymore.”
– Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

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