Date of Birth: 29 September 1964, Islington, North London, UK
Birth Name: Terry Sue-Patt
Terry Sue-Patt was a former child actor and star of the long-running BBC children’s television drama Grange Hill, in which he played Benny Green between 1978 and 1982; he appeared in almost 30 episodes of the series which was set in a comprehensive school in the fictional London borough of Northam and became one of its best-loved characters.
The small and somewhat vulnerable-looking Benny was the first child to make an appearance in the first episode of Grange Hill when he let himself in through the school gates and was caught kicking a football against a wall by an irate caretaker. But Benny was not one of the chief trouble-makers in the show; generally his role was that of the anxious side-kick to the mischievous Tucker Jenkins (played by Todd Carty, who has since gone on to a successful acting career in adulthood). Their various scrapes were the basis of many of the storylines, and prompted, on more than one occasion, the hapless Benny to exclaim: “Flippin’ ’eck, Tucker!”
During Sue-Patt’s time with Grange Hill (created by Phil Redmond, who also wrote and produced Brookside and Hollyoaks), the series tackled the problems faced by a group of pupils growing up in the capital in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a candour hitherto unseen on children’s television. It was regarded as controversial viewing by some parents with its frank approach to issues involving bullying, racism, teenage pregnancy and drugs. Mary Whitehouse spoke out vigorously against it, deeming the series “quite unacceptable for family viewing”. The social and political messages brought it media attention, but it was the day-to-day life of the characters football in the playground, lining up for disgusting school dinners and escaping the clutches of the bullying and self-righteous PE teacher “Bullet” Baxter which attracted Grange Hill’s young viewers. They came to regard Sue-Patt and his on-screen contemporaries with almost as much affection as their own schoolmates.
Terry Sue-Patt was born on September 29 1964 in Islington, north London, one of six children of African parents. He was educated at Sir William Collins Comprehensive School, and was also a pupil at the Anna Scher Theatre School.
Terry’s early acting experience included small parts in various Children’s Film Foundation productions, and in 1978 he landed the role of Benny after being spotted by a talent scout while playing football in a park. He went on to appear in General Hospital for ATV and the BBC’s Jackanory. In 1990 he played a gunman in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmond’s, and during the 1990s he appeared in the BBC Schools programme Scene. He also played Yusef in The Firm (1989), directed by Alan Clarke.
Grange Hill aired for 30 years until 2008 when it was felt that the show had run its course.
Latterly, Sue-Patt worked as an artist and photographer and exhibited his work which was influenced by graffiti and by artists such as Basquiat, Gilbert and George and Picasso in London galleries.
In 1989 Sue-Patt’s brother, Michael, was killed in a car crash. Terry Sue-Patt was sitting in the passenger seat next to him at the time of the accident and he subsequently struggled in his recovery.
Date of Birth: 26 March 1931, Boston, Massachusetts, US
Birth Name: Leonard Simon Nimoy
Nicknames: Leonard Nimoy
Few actors outside soap opera become defined by a single role to the exclusion of all else in their career. But that was the case for Leonard Nimoy, who has died aged 83. He did not simply play Mr Spock, first officer of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek he was synonymous with him, even after taking on other parts and branching out into directing and photography.
Star Trek began life on television, running for three series between 1966 and 1969, and later spawned numerous spin-offs, including a run of films of varying quality, two of which (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, from 1984, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, from 1986) Nimoy directed. “I’m very proud of having been connected with the show,” he wrote in 1975. “I felt that it dealt with morality and philosophical questions in a way that many of us would wish were part of the reality of our lives.”
In front of the camera, as the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock, he captured with delicious wit the tensions in the character. Spock’s logical, detached perspective could be infuriating to his more demonstrative colleagues; it also caused him to be amused or bewildered by the workings of humans. This could play out humorously or poignantly. He was uniquely placed, for example, to analyse coolly our emotional shortcomings: “It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want,” he mused in the first series. His dry rapport with the more passionate, full-blooded Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner) was a pleasure that endured long after the Star Trek brand itself showed signs of having been around the galaxy a few too many times.
Once seen, Spock was never forgotten. The hair, boot-polish black, was snipped short with a severe, straight fringe; it looked more like headgear than a haircut, more painted on than grown. An inch of forehead separated that fringe from a pair of sabre-like eyebrows that arched extravagantly upwards. These came in handy for conveying what the reserved Spock could not always express verbally. “The first thing I learned was that a raised eyebrow can be very effective,” said Nimoy.
Spock’s defining physical feature, though, was his pointed ears. The actor’s first reaction upon seeing them was: “If this doesn’t work, it could be a bad joke.” Sharply tapered but in no way pixieish, the ears somehow never undermined his gravitas. Or rather, Nimoy’s sober disposition precluded laughter. Besides, in a show suffused with messages of inclusivity and tolerance, it would never do for audiences to laugh at someone just because he came from Vulcan.
Nimoy contributed key details to the character, including the traditional Vulcan greeting: a hand held up and the four fingers parted to create a V. This was inspired by prayer gestures witnessed by the young Nimoy at synagogue.
He would later title his 1975 memoir I Am Not Spock. “I was trying to illuminate the actor’s process in creating a character. I talked about the fact that I grew up in Boston and Spock did not. My parents were Russian immigrants; Spock’s were not. I’m an actor who portrays this character.” He conceded, though, that the title had been a mistake and had given the erroneous impression that he was trying to shrug off his best-known role. He made amends by calling the 1995 follow-up I Am Spock.
Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Max, a barber, and Dora, and showed an interest in acting from a young age (though his father tried to persuade him to take up the accordion instead). He studied drama at Boston College and began to get small parts in theatre, film and television. At 20 he was cast in the lead role of a young boxer in the 1952 film Kid Monk Baroni, and discovered a kind of sanctuary in the prosthetics he was required to wear. “I found a home behind that makeup,” he wrote in I Am Not Spock. “I was much more confident and comfortable than I would have been, had I been told I was to play ‘a handsome young man’.”
Nimoy did military service from 1953 to 1955, during which time one of his duties was producing army talent shows. He continued acting after leaving the army and in the early 1960s began teaching acting classes, while also starring in guest roles on television series including Bonanza, Rawhide and The Twilight Zone. He established his own acting studio where he taught for three years.
Nimoy auditioned for an earlier Gene Roddenberry project, and when Roddenberry created Star Trek he thought of him for the role of Spock. “I thought it would be a challenge,” Nimoy said. “As an actor, my training had been in how to use my emotions, and here was a character who had them all locked up.”
After 79 episodes across three series, the NBC network cancelled the show because of its low ratings. Nimoy went straight into another regular gig a role on the light-hearted spy series Mission: Impossible and then began studying photography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He would later publish photographic studies including Shekhina (2002), a celebration of spirituality and sexuality in Judaism, and The Full Body Project (2007), focused on unorthodox female body sizes.
His acting work in the 1970s included a chilling performance in Philip Kaufman’s intelligent 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In 1979, he returned to play Spock in the rather leaden Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He would do so in a further seven Star Trek films. Among them were Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). He was the only original cast member to appear in JJ Abrams’s instalments of the revived or “rebooted” franchise, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). His appearance in the first of those Abrams films, as the older Spock coming face to face with his younger self (Zachary Quinto), was deeply affecting and played with characteristic restraint. He also revived Spock in two 1991 episodes (“Unification I” and “Unification II”) of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in animated and computer-game incarnations of Star Trek.
If Nimoy never escaped association with Spock, it was not for want of trying. He wrote seven poetry collections, released several albums and established himself as a successful and varied director. Alongside his two Star Trek movies, he directed himself in a TV movie version of the one-man play Vincent (1981), about the life of Van Gogh. He scored an international box-office hit with 3 Men and a Baby (1987). He also made the drama The Good Mother (1988), starring Diane Keaton and Liam Neeson, as well as two disappointing comedies, Funny About Love (1990) and Holy Matrimony (1994).
Date of Birth: 3 September 1919, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Birth Name: Philip Stern
Nicknames: Phil ‘Snapdragon’ Stern
The photographer Phil Stern created portraits of stars of the silver screen including James Dean, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe that were both iconic and intimate. His subjects looked natural, even self-absorbed or introverted.
The lower half of his most famous portrait of James Dean (1955) is a black cable-knit jumper; the upper half reveals Dean’s face only from half-way up his ears. His eyes are rolled up, framed by straight eyebrows. The white plane of Dean’s forehead under a shiny shock of tousled hair, and the pale background, inevitably draw attention to those mischievous eyes, bisecting the frame and challenging the viewer.
By contrast, one 1953 image of Marilyn Monroe shows her as wistful and withdrawn, looking into the distance with an air of abstraction, her hands nervously fingering the loosened bow at the waist of her gown. As Stern told Entertainment Weekly in 1993: “I was never interested in the glamour, I was interested in the tears and agony behind it.”
His friendship with John Wayne gave him access to perhaps his most subversively casual image. It shows Wayne lighting up, eyeline going straight to a woman’s bared leg. But it’s not what he’s doing but what he’s wearing that draws the viewer’s eye: the cowboy hat and loose jacket conform to type, but below the waist the over-constricting gingham shorts, plump legs and girly espadrilles are a risible disaster.
Stern’s pictures of musicians are very different in character. Formal ones such as of the Rat Pack on stage in 1962 are mainly of lineups. One senses his preference for the moodiness of Sinatra alone, shot from behind and dressed as if by Raymond Chandler in a hat and long mackintosh, pacing down a bleakly dirty corridor towards a dead end. Another Rat Pack member, Sammy Davis Jr, performed a rooftop diamond-shaped jump. Despite his tightly drawn up (and shiny) brogues, his white outfit and right-angled arms with their delicately spread fingers are reminiscent of a Hindu dancer (1947).
Stern loved jazz, and he photographed Louis Armstrong in a coincidentally similar pose, not jumping but perched on a stool, trumpet upended on his knee as he looks down and laughs into his chest (1957). Stern enjoyed the image so much that he made a lifesize cardboard cutout of it, and had his own portrait taken alongside. A less artfully composed shot shows Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald together, in full swing, singing at a studio recording.
There was more to Stern’s career than showbiz, however. He enlisted as a combat photographer in the second world war, and won a Purple Heart for his courage and willingness to risk his life picturing infantrymen under fire. Stern documented US troops advancing through north Africa, and was invalided home with severe shrapnel wounds to his arms and neck. In 1943 he returned to cover the Allied invasion of Sicily for Stars and Stripes, the US army magazine. According to his biographer, the journalist Herbert Mitgang: “His pictures of the invasion and its aftermath remain among the most outstanding documents in the annals of combat photography in any war, before or since.”
The postwar decades saw a media boom: the heyday of photo-magazines and blockbuster movies aimed at a predominantly young mass audience. Stern rode the publicity of a new generation of stars who became, at least in part through his attention, poster pinups. Interviewed later by the Los Angeles Times, he mused on his transfer from war to celebrity photography. “ [The war] very well might have helped me get access ... I don’t really know for sure, because some of them wanted publicity so bad that you didn’t have to have a Purple Heart for that. All you had to have was an expensive camera.”
Born in Philadelphia to Russian Jewish immigrants, Alix and May, Stern was later to reference Arthur Miller in describing his father as “a salesman, a la Willy Loman. I wanted to find the best way to avoid becoming my father.” The family went to live in the Bronx when Stern was 11, and he left school at the age of 16, preferring to experiment with a Kodak camera his mother had won in a free promotion. He took a job sweeping up at a Canal Street photo studio and soon acquired the skills necessary to supply “a readership that required a certain kind of picture” for the pulp Police Gazette.
At the age of 19 he shot his first reportage assignment on Kentucky coalminers for a new weekly. When Friday magazine opened a West Coast office, Stern moved to Los Angeles and started his stellar Hollywood career with a feature on Orson Welles shooting Citizen Kane. In 1941 Stern had his first spread in Life magazine, to which he contributed as long as it lasted. From the 1940s onwards, he expanded his freelance reach, regularly contributing also to Look, Collier’s, Vanity Fair and Variety.
Stern’s connections enabled him to work as a stills cameraman on more than 200 films, including Guys and Dolls, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind; to contribute pictures to hundreds of book and record covers, including those for albums by Sinatra, Armstrong and Fitzgerald; and to touch on the world of politics. When Sinatra assumed responsibility for President John F Kennedy’s inaugural gala in 1960, Stern paused in shooting stills for The Devil at 4 O’Clock to deposit a note in his dressing room. It read: “Read the news today. I hereby apply for the job of resident paparazzo on your inaugural project.” It worked, and Sinatra hired Stern for the inaugural ball. His shot of Sinatra deferentially lighting Kennedy’s cigarette in a swath of smoke went around the world.
Stern was ever careful not to get too close to the stars he befriended. In his heyday he acknowledged: “Someone who knows the scene might say I was part of the gang in that I was acceptable to them, but that’s the extent of it. I was not on their A-list, but from time to time I’d be invited. Technically I was one of them for an hour and a half.”
Stern lived most of his life in a modest bungalow near the Paramount studios, cluttered with decades’ worth of photographic prints, contact sheets and negatives. In 2001, he donated his library to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. When asked what made a good picture, he gave a puzzled answer: “I wish I knew. I could keep taking more.”
Date of Birth: 3 October 1929, Brooklyn, US
Birth Name: Bert Stern
Bert Stern, the celebrity photographer, became one of the highest paid talents in the American advertising industry, and famously took more than 2,000 pictures of Marilyn Monroe in an intimate three day shoot, the so called “Last Sitting” and shortly before her death in 1962.
Many showed the actress naked, or posing through diaphanous scarves. “She was so beautiful at that time,” Stern recalled. “I didn’t say: 'Pose nude.’ It was more one thing leading to another: You take clothes off and off and off and off and off. She thought for a while. I’d say something and the pose just led to itself.”
Although self taught, Stern helped to revolutionise Madison Avenue and the world of 1960s advertising, recently depicted on television in Mad Men, by transforming simple commercial photography into a branch of conceptual art. With contemporaries like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, he reinvented the vocabulary of glossy magazines (which had hitherto regarded pictures mainly as a means of illustrating advertising copy) by the use of clear, uncluttered and arresting images.
His first assignment, for Smirnoff vodka in 1955, for example, featured a simple close up of a martini glass in the heat of the Egyptian desert with the Great Pyramid at Giza shimmering in the background. One American critic called Stern’s photograph “the most influential break with traditional advertising photography” of its era.
As a portraitist he photographed some of the world’s most beautiful women, among them Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot. Stern also shot pictures of the then 13 year old actress Sue Lyon in heart-shaped red sunglasses one became the poster image for Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film Lolita (1962).
An obsessive womaniser, Stern admitted that he “fell in love with everything I photographed”. But it was the so called “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe for Vogue magazine that was to furnish his most enduring portfolio. He confessed to trying to get the actress into bed as she peeled off layers of clothing during the shoot at a Hollywood hotel. Whether or not he succeeded was never clear, though he later suggested: “I could have hung up the camera, run off with her, and lived happily ever after.”
The son of Jewish immigrants, Bertram Stern was born on October 3 1929 in Brooklyn, where his father worked as a children’s portrait photographer. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, he landed a job in the post room at Look magazine, where he met Stanley Kubrick, the magazine’s youngest staff photographer, with whom he shared “a mutual interest in beautiful women”; the pair formed a close and lasting friendship.
Despite his lack of training, Stern became assistant to Look’s art director Hershal Bramson. This led to a position as art director at Mayfair magazine, where Stern bought a camera, learned how to develop film and make contact sheets, and started taking his own pictures.
In 1951 Stern’s career was interrupted by the Korean War, and he was drafted into the US Army. But instead of being posted to Korea, he was diverted to Japan and assigned to the photographic department, where he learned to use a film camera, shooting news footage for the Army while taking stills for himself.
After his discharge his old boss Bramson, then working for a small advertising agency, offered Stern a photographer’s job on a new campaign for Smirnoff. Walking down Fifth Avenue with a martini glass filled with water for inspiration, Stern noticed the Plaza Hotel was inverted in the glass that acted like a lens and turned the image upside down. This gave him the idea to photograph the Pyramid of Giza upside down in the glass, and in 1955 he flew to Egypt to capture the image.
After a brief detour into documentary film making he directed Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959), a much-admired record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival Stern returned to stills photography. By 1962 he had begun photographing personalities as well as advertisements and, having joined Vogue magazine, was invited to Rome by Twentieth Century Fox to photograph Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra.
Richard Burton, whom Stern had already photographed at his studio in New York, was playing Mark Antony and began an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Stern became friends with both and was able to shoot “more candid, fun pictures” of the couple when they were together off set.
Stern’s contract at Vogue gave him a free hand to photograph what he liked, and in June 1962, when he realised that Marilyn Monroe had never been photographed for the magazine, he arranged a shoot at the Bel-Air Hotel, where he adapted one of the spacious suites as a studio. “You’re beautiful,” he exclaimed as he greeted her in the corridor, and she replied: “What a nice thing to say”.
At Monroe’s suggestion, she posed naked, draped in scarves, pearls, paper flowers and bedsheets during the 12-hour session, which ended at dawn. The editors at Vogue were ecstatic , and sent Stern back to photograph Monroe for a further two days, during which he shot the black-and-white images that became some of the most intimate celebrity portraits ever taken.
When Stern submitted his pictures he had shot 2,571 over three days Vogue decided to use the mono pictures rather than the colour nudes. “They called me up to see the layouts,” Stern recalled. “There was something haunting about them. That Monday, she died.”
But as his career flourished through the 1960s, Stern’s personal life fell apart, particularly as he underpinned his exhausting work schedule he booked as many as seven shoots a day with heavy use of amphetamines. Eventually his marriage to the beautiful New York City Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent collapsed, along with his health and his finances.
Recovering in Spain, he had the idea for The Pill Book, a photographic compilation of different pills which he shot as simple still lifes. The book sold more than 18 million copies, and by the late 1970s Stern had returned to America to photograph portraits and fashion.
In 1983, through a friend, he met Shannah Laumeister, then 13, whom he photographed. After a second sitting four years later, she became his girlfriend and muse, and the couple secretly married in 2009. In 2012 Shannah Laumeister directed a candid film documentary, Bert Stern: Original Madman, which was released earlier this year.
In 2000 Stern’s photographs of Monroe were published in a mammoth book, Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting. He latterly sought to duplicate his Monroe success with Lindsay Lohan, and while the pictures proved a tabloid sensation, they were widely criticised as tawdry and exploitative.
Date of Birth: 30 April 1938 Fulham, London, UK
Birth Name: David Cripps
David Cripps was the leading British photographer of objects of his generation. His work helped to launch the careers of countless artists and makers. David had a supreme gift for showing his subjects from ceramics to studio glass and jewellery with a new clarity and candour, bringing out form, colour and texture through his crisp use of light and shadow, and setting his subjects in a studied space that gave context and breadth. His photography went beyond documentation, adding a new dimension to the objects on which he set his camera.
Much of his observational skill came from his graphic training, a visual sense that was nurtured early. He was born in Fulham, south-west London, into a family of modest means. His mother had been in service (the poet John Masefield was among her employers) and his father was a gas fitter. Though he was often ill as a child, his parents recognised an ability that gained him a place at the Sir Christopher Wren school in Notting Hill, west London. The school was linked to Hammersmith School of Art, and much of the curriculum was devoted to art and architecture, giving David a portfolio sufficient to take him to the London College of Printing in the mid-1950s. He went on to work in Chelsea as a graphic artist for Hans Schleger, the German-born designer famous for his London Transport circle and bar symbol for bus stops and pioneering work on corporate identity. This was a heady time, with David very much part of the swinging London art scene.
David Cripps was a perfectionist, his asides on substandard work pithy and wonderfully blunt.
Following a period in an advertising agency, David got a job at the new Observer colour supplement, assisting the art director. It was here that his photographs were first seen, initially fashion shots and then still life’s for the cover. This made him an obvious choice for the memorable still-life sequence that accompanied Raymond Hawkey's titles for Richard Attenborough's film Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), for which Hawkey and David received great acclaim.
After a period of personal difficulties, David resurfaced at the time Crafts magazine was launching in 1973. By chance he met its art director John Hawkins who employed David to photograph craft objects for its features, and the characteristic simplicity of David's style became an integral part of the publication, and the modern crafts imagery of the 70s and 80s. In 1975 Bruce Bernard, the discerning picture editor of the Sunday Times magazine, spotted David's photographs and employed him immediately. As Bernard would later write, David's work "showed a much more particular appreciation of each individual object than I had ever seen before. He uses light to illuminate not blind and sees every subject as an entirely separate problem ... But his unique respect for the subjects does not rob his pictures of their graphic strength."
As well as extensive work for the Crafts Council (which gave him a retrospective in 1979) and Design magazine, Cripps contributed to many books in the late 70s and 80s. These included numerous monographs and catalogues on artists and makers such as Charles Sargeant Jagger, Lucie Rie, Elizabeth Fritsch, Alison Britton and, more recently, Ewen Henderson, Carol McNicoll and Michael Rowe, many of whom became valued friends. There were his contributions to major surveys such as Wealth of the Roman World for the British Museum (1977), Dada and Surrealism Reviewed for the Hayward Gallery (1978), British Craft Textiles (1985) and Quilts of the British Isles (1987). Books for the popular market included charming studies with Mary Stewart-Wilson of Queen Mary's dolls' house (1988) and the Royal Mews (1991), each project cherished for how it might broaden his perception and technique. He was a fine portraitist, and his personal work included superb landscape, still-life and flower studies, many of which were exhibited in solo shows in London and Birmingham in the mid-1990s.
While David was involved in several recent projects, including recording much of the great ethnographic collection at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London, and work on Royal Mail commemorative stamps, he was semi-retired by 1998, the year he moved from north London to Ramsgate. Though distant from his favourite Soho drinking haunts, he relished his new Kent friends, and a large house to renovate. And while not the world's best businessman bills were things you never opened – he brought his sensibility to stylish dressing, good cooking and a lasting interest in art.
A perfectionist, his asides on substandard work were pithy and wonderfully blunt. But he was one of the warmest people I have known, and it was this modesty and empathy that he brought to the camera, a lasting contribution for which he was made an MBE. As Bernard wrote: "Through his dedication to the work of the artist craftsman he has himself became a true artist and craftsman of the camera."
Date of Birth: 1954, Sydney, Australia
Birth Name: Jeremy Ramsden
Jeremy Ramsden, was one of the finest photographic printers of his generation. Jeremy could take a frame of anyone's film and turn it into a work of art on paper. His attention to detail was apparent in the way he would produce a variety of prints from the same frame, each having its own distinct mood and character. When you got your negatives back, you would see his meticulous notes written on little strips of masking tape affixed to the protective sheets. When you consider the names on his client list – which included Tim Walker, Elaine Constantine, Harry Borden and Brian Griffin – the breadth of his achievement becomes clear.
Jeremy was born in Sydney, Australia. He joined the merchant navy after leaving college, arriving in London in time to celebrate his 21st birthday. A keen photographer since childhood, he became involved in the London photo scene in a variety of capacities, including studio assistant to Brian Duffy, freelancing as a photojournalist (he was a fine photographer in his own right) and mastering the arcane art of colour printmaking.
His experiences of the glory days of Soho in the advertising boom of the 1970s and 80s would have made a very interesting book. Jeremy had a stereotypical Aussie gusto for travel, people and a good story but, above all, he liked sharing his enthusiasm for the world and how we see it. He was generous with his time and a champion of photographers. Having Jeremy in your corner was like having a secret weapon; an unsolicited compliment from him was worth far more than one from almost any picture editor.
A couple of years ago, Jeremy co-founded Labyrinth, a darkroom in the East End of London which has become a mecca for new and established photographers. Jeremy was full of excitement for the young talents coming to him, the brave ones who had chosen film over digital. He gave a great deal and asked for very little in return. The industry will feel a lot colder without him.
Date of Birth: 12 September 1920, HIghbury, London, England, UK
Birth Name: Cornel Lucas
Cornel Lucas, was the doyen of still photography in the British film industry. Although his pictures were not destined for cinema screens, his artistry and technique were much respected by his film cameramen colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic.
During the 1940s, working at Denham Studios, in Buckinghamshire, Cornel became well known for his brilliant portraiture and as the master of a huge 12in x 10in plate camera, which gave a large negative area, capable of delivering unmatched image quality. When international superstars came to work on British productions, they were invariably photographed by Cornel to create the publicity stills.
When the film No Highway in the Sky was being made in 1948, a special session was arranged with Marlene Dietrich, resulting in a series of iconic photos.
The success of the Dietrich work led to Cornel receiving an offer from the Rank Organisation: they would set up a specially equipped studio for him at Pinewood, where he would photograph all the 50 or so artists then under contract to Rank. Also to the studio came many veteran American stars and all the Rank starlets, and among his sitters were David Niven, Gregory Peck, Diana Dors and Brigitte Bardot.
Cornel was born in Highbury, north London, and his interest in photography was first nurtured by his mother, who bought him a Kodak Box Brownie snapshot camera for his 11th birthday. Since he was blessed with six sisters (as well as a brother), the availability of young models "in house" meant his ability as a portrait photographer soon become apparent. With the one bathroom in their home doubling as a darkroom, the whole family watched in wonder as young Cornel's pictures developed.
His first job, at the age of 15, was as a trainee at a film processing laboratory that earned him a small salary and enabled him to study photography part-time at Westminster University. At the start of the second world war, he joined the Royal Air Force and was soon posted to the RAF school of photography, in Farnborough, Hampshire. Throughout his years in the RAF, Cornel was engaged in top secret aerial reconnaissance assignments.
Somehow, an opportunity occurred for him to ask the most famous portrait photographer of the time, Cecil Beaton, how a young serviceman might get into his business once the war was over. The great man firmly advised him against it, with the simple words: "Too difficult, too much competition." In no way disheartened and certainly not dissuaded, Cornel secured a junior position at Denham Studios.
In 1959, building on his success in photographing film stars, Cornel opened his own studio in Flood Street, Chelsea, where his work soon embraced wider aspects of photography, particularly high fashion advertising and television commercials.
Cornel's work is held in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the National Media Museum, Bradford (which also has his magnificent 12 x 10 plate camera). In addition, individual Lucas portraits in homes all over the world are hugely valued by the sitters concerned. Cornel made it his business to ensure that the achievement of "techies", his colleagues behind the cameras, were seen to be equally worthy of recognition. A portrait by Cornel Lucas was for the backroom people of the film industry a lasting privilege.