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Bob Willoughby

Bob Willoughby

United States • Born in: 1927

Celebrity Photographers

Photographers Artists

American artists

Bob Willoughby (1927 – 2009) was a true pioneer of 20th century photography. He was the first 'outside' photographer to be hired by the Hollywood film studios to capture the moments of production on set and is the man widely credited with creating the motion picture 'still' we see everywhere today.

With sitters that included everyone from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley to Audrey Hepburn, this innovative American photographer changed the way that movie stars would be portrayed forever.

His genius was in his ability to document the course of each movie he photographed - he captured, with wonderful perception, the actors and directors on and off the set, in moments of rest and of high drama.

In many ways Willoughby invented the celebrity portrait as it exists today, casting the candid eye of the camera across the most famous faces to see them with renewed vitality. Hugely influential, this approach was emulated subsequently by the likes of Brian Duffy and Terence Donovan.

Bob was given an Argus C-3 camera for his twelfth birthday, providing the catalyst for what would become the key to his future. He studied cinema at the University of Southern California, and worked under the renowned film-maker Saul Bass at the Kahn Institute of Art whilst doing apprenticeships with Hollywood photographers.

Willoughby's reportage style portraits of Jazz icons such as Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davies caught the attention of Harper's Bazaar who gave him his first fashion magazine assignment in the early 50's. His career really took off in 1954 when Warner Bros. asked him to photograph Judy Garland's final scene on the set of A Star Is Born - this portrait of the star became his first Life cover and her second. This began a non-stop collaboration with the publicity departments of all the major Hollywood studios - Willoughby went from strength to strength from that point on and he quickly became one of the most sought after photographers of his time. In fact, remarkably Willoughby's work was never out of print for even a week throughout a 20-year period.

Bob Willoughby carried his creativity to other photographic realms too. In order to surmount the challenges of working on film sets, Willoughby became a technical innovator, using radio-controlled cameras for complicated and difficult sets, devising various brackets to hold a stills camera onto a Panavision camera and inventing the silent blimp for 35mm stills cameras so that he could photograph silently on set.

He would immerse himself with the film crew and use remote control cameras to achieve the most naturalistic images of the actors and directors at work. Willoughby's spontaneous approach broke with the traditional, staid Hollywood portrait and produced 'new' images of a rare intimacy that lay bare the vulnerabilities of the stars. Whilst some are full of bravado and playfulness, others are tinged with shyness and anxiety.

Willoughby continued to photograph for the rest of his life, living his last years in Vence, France, where he continued a very active professional life until he died in 2009.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honoured Willoughby in 1998 with a major retrospective and he won the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Still Photography in 2004. Willoughby's photography has been published and exhibited extensively. His photographs are held in major collections worldwide including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Tate Collection, London; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

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Photography

Elisabeth Taylor on the MGM backlot during filming on 'Raintree County', Bob Willoughby

Elisabeth Taylor on the MGM backlot during filming on 'Raintree County'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

James Dean reading on the set of 'Rebel Without A Cause', Bob Willoughby

James Dean reading on the set of 'Rebel Without A Cause'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

Elizabeth Taylor in red bathing suit during filming on 'Raintree County', Bob Willoughby

Elizabeth Taylor in red bathing suit during filming on 'Raintree County'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 9.5 inch

$1,531

Elvis Presley & Sophia Loren at the Paramount commissary, Bob Willoughby

Elvis Presley & Sophia Loren at the Paramount commissary

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 20 inch

$3,009

Frank Sinatra on the set of 'Marriage On The Rocks', Warner Brothers, Bob Willoughby

Frank Sinatra on the set of 'Marriage On The Rocks', Warner Brothers

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Barbara Streisand in the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Bob Willoughby

Barbara Streisand in the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Doris Day & Rock Hudson during the filming of "Pillow Talk", Bob Willoughby

Doris Day & Rock Hudson during the filming of "Pillow Talk"

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 20 inch

$2,006

Marilyn Monroe getting out of a helicopter at a party thrown in her honour by 20th Century Fox, 1952, Bob Willoughby

Marilyn Monroe getting out of a helicopter at a party thrown in her honour by 20th Century Fox, 1952

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 20 inch

$2,006

Elizabeth Taylor glamour portrait, Palm Springs, Bob Willoughby

Elizabeth Taylor glamour portrait, Palm Springs

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 9.5 inch

$1,531

Elisabeth Taylor tries to keep warm on the set for 'Raintree County', Bob Willoughby

Elisabeth Taylor tries to keep warm on the set for 'Raintree County'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

Lauren Bacall at her home in Beverly Hills, Bob Willoughby

Lauren Bacall at her home in Beverly Hills

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Chet Baker listens to playback whilst recording with Gerry Mulligan, Los Angeles, Bob Willoughby

Chet Baker listens to playback whilst recording with Gerry Mulligan, Los Angeles

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Sylvester Stallone with a backdrop of villain Rutger Hauer filming 'Nighthawks', Bob Willoughby

Sylvester Stallone with a backdrop of villain Rutger Hauer filming 'Nighthawks'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Marilyn Monroe in front of a music sheet backdrop at a party thrown in her honour by 20th Century Fox, Bob Willoughby

Marilyn Monroe in front of a music sheet backdrop at a party thrown in her honour by 20th Century Fox

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Steve McQueen on location for 'Junior Bonner', Arizona, Bob Willoughby

Steve McQueen on location for 'Junior Bonner', Arizona

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

Audrey Hepburn gets into the studio car after a long day at Paramount Studios, her first trip to Hollywood after filming 'Roman Holiday', Bob Willoughby

Audrey Hepburn gets into the studio car after a long day at Paramount Studios, her first trip to Hollywood after filming 'Roman Holiday'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$5,912

Michael Caine on the set of "Gambit", Bob Willoughby

Michael Caine on the set of "Gambit"

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

Audrey Hepburn, on Telephone, Paramount Studios, Bob Willoughby

Audrey Hepburn, on Telephone, Paramount Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 24 x 20 inch

$3,009

Chet Baker after recording with Gerry Mulligan, Los Angeles, Bob Willoughby

Chet Baker after recording with Gerry Mulligan, Los Angeles

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

Kim Novak on the set of "The Man With The Golden Arm", RKO Studios, Bob Willoughby

Kim Novak on the set of "The Man With The Golden Arm", RKO Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 29 inch

$2,006

Sean Connery on the set of Hitchcock’s "Marnie", Universal Studios, Bob Willoughby

Sean Connery on the set of Hitchcock’s "Marnie", Universal Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Audrey Hepburn at her hotel window after a long day of publicity photos at Paramount Studios. Her first trip to Hollywood after filming "Roman Holiday", Los Angeles, Bob Willoughby

Audrey Hepburn at her hotel window after a long day of publicity photos at Paramount Studios. Her first trip to Hollywood after filming "Roman Holiday", Los Angeles

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 9.5 inch

$3,484

Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly, on the set of 'High Society' at MGM Studios, Bob Willoughby

Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly, on the set of 'High Society' at MGM Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Elizabeth Taylor looking a little star struck, meeting Marlene Dietrich on the set of 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', Bob Willoughby

Elizabeth Taylor looking a little star struck, meeting Marlene Dietrich on the set of 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

The Rat Pack - Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr & Dean Martin photographed in front of the Sands Hotel where they were appearing at 'The Summit at the Sands" at night and filming 'Ocean's 11' during the day, Las Vegas, Bob Willoughby

The Rat Pack - Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr & Dean Martin photographed in front of the Sands Hotel where they were appearing at 'The Summit at the Sands" at night and filming 'Ocean's 11' during the day, Las Vegas

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 16 inch

$2,006

Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft on a specially constructed set on 'The Graduate', Bob Willoughby

Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft on a specially constructed set on 'The Graduate'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 20 inch

$2,006

Frank Sinatra at the craps tables at the Sands Hotel during the filming of 'Ocean’s 11', Las Vegas, Bob Willoughby

Frank Sinatra at the craps tables at the Sands Hotel during the filming of 'Ocean’s 11', Las Vegas

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 20 x 24 inch

$3,009

Sophia Loren surrounded by dress forms at the Paramount Studios wardrobe department, Bob Willoughby

Sophia Loren surrounded by dress forms at the Paramount Studios wardrobe department

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$4,962

Cole Porter posing in his Beverly Hills home, Bob Willoughby

Cole Porter posing in his Beverly Hills home

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$4,962

Billie Holiday singing her plaintive songs at the Tiffany Club, Los Angeles, Bob Willoughby

Billie Holiday singing her plaintive songs at the Tiffany Club, Los Angeles

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$4,962

Alfred Hitchcock on the Universal Studios set of ‘Marnie’, Bob Willoughby

Alfred Hitchcock on the Universal Studios set of ‘Marnie’

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$4,962

Audrey Hepburn holds Ip during pre-production for 'Green Mansions', Bob Willoughby

Audrey Hepburn holds Ip during pre-production for 'Green Mansions'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 10 x 8 inch

$422

Julie Christie on location for "Petulia", San Francisco, Bob Willoughby

Julie Christie on location for "Petulia", San Francisco

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$4,962

Mia Farrow perched long legged on the scaffolding of "Rosemary’s Baby" during filming at Paramount Studios, Bob Willoughby

Mia Farrow perched long legged on the scaffolding of "Rosemary’s Baby" during filming at Paramount Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$4,962

Rock Hudson in his dressing room during the filming of "One Desire", Universal Studios, Bob Willoughby

Rock Hudson in his dressing room during the filming of "One Desire", Universal Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$4,962

Montgomery Clift smokes quietly in the shadows on location for MGM's "Raintree County", Danville Kentucky, Bob Willoughby

Montgomery Clift smokes quietly in the shadows on location for MGM's "Raintree County", Danville Kentucky

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$4,962

Rutger Hauer on the set of "Nighthawks", New York, Bob Willoughby

Rutger Hauer on the set of "Nighthawks", New York

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$5,912

Kim Novak on the set of "The Man With The Golden Arm", RKO Studios, Bob Willoughby

Kim Novak on the set of "The Man With The Golden Arm", RKO Studios

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$9,817

Big Jay McNeely drives the crowd wild at the Olympic Auditorium, downtown Los Angeles, Bob Willoughby

Big Jay McNeely drives the crowd wild at the Olympic Auditorium, downtown Los Angeles

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 12 x 16 inch

$5,912

Louis Armstrong relaxing on the set of 'High Society', Bob Willoughby

Louis Armstrong relaxing on the set of 'High Society'

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$8,023

Dirk Bogarde taking a well earned break on the set of "I Could Go On Singing", Shepperton Studios, UK, Bob Willoughby

Dirk Bogarde taking a well earned break on the set of "I Could Go On Singing", Shepperton Studios, UK

Bob Willoughby

Photography - 16 x 12 inch

$5,912

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Who is the artist?

Bob Willoughby (1927 – 2009) was a true pioneer of 20th century photography. He was the first 'outside' photographer to be hired by the Hollywood film studios to capture the moments of production on set and is the man widely credited with creating the motion picture 'still' we see everywhere today.

With sitters that included everyone from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley to Audrey Hepburn, this innovative American photographer changed the way that movie stars would be portrayed forever.

His genius was in his ability to document the course of each movie he photographed - he captured, with wonderful perception, the actors and directors on and off the set, in moments of rest and of high drama.

In many ways Willoughby invented the celebrity portrait as it exists today, casting the candid eye of the camera across the most famous faces to see them with renewed vitality. Hugely influential, this approach was emulated subsequently by the likes of Brian Duffy and Terence Donovan.

Bob was given an Argus C-3 camera for his twelfth birthday, providing the catalyst for what would become the key to his future. He studied cinema at the University of Southern California, and worked under the renowned film-maker Saul Bass at the Kahn Institute of Art whilst doing apprenticeships with Hollywood photographers.

Willoughby's reportage style portraits of Jazz icons such as Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davies caught the attention of Harper's Bazaar who gave him his first fashion magazine assignment in the early 50's. His career really took off in 1954 when Warner Bros. asked him to photograph Judy Garland's final scene on the set of A Star Is Born - this portrait of the star became his first Life cover and her second. This began a non-stop collaboration with the publicity departments of all the major Hollywood studios - Willoughby went from strength to strength from that point on and he quickly became one of the most sought after photographers of his time. In fact, remarkably Willoughby's work was never out of print for even a week throughout a 20-year period.

Bob Willoughby carried his creativity to other photographic realms too. In order to surmount the challenges of working on film sets, Willoughby became a technical innovator, using radio-controlled cameras for complicated and difficult sets, devising various brackets to hold a stills camera onto a Panavision camera and inventing the silent blimp for 35mm stills cameras so that he could photograph silently on set.

He would immerse himself with the film crew and use remote control cameras to achieve the most naturalistic images of the actors and directors at work. Willoughby's spontaneous approach broke with the traditional, staid Hollywood portrait and produced 'new' images of a rare intimacy that lay bare the vulnerabilities of the stars. Whilst some are full of bravado and playfulness, others are tinged with shyness and anxiety.

Willoughby continued to photograph for the rest of his life, living his last years in Vence, France, where he continued a very active professional life until he died in 2009.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honoured Willoughby in 1998 with a major retrospective and he won the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Still Photography in 2004. Willoughby's photography has been published and exhibited extensively. His photographs are held in major collections worldwide including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Tate Collection, London; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

What is Bob Willoughby’s artistic movement?

The artistic movements of the artists are: Celebrity Photographers

When was Bob Willoughby born?

The year of birth of the artist is: 1927