Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Swanson Assignment

Gloria Swanson is my favorite silent film star and one of my top three favorite stars of all time. I just adore her. She was classy, fashionable, and just overall amazing. I came across an article a while back that I found really interesting. LIFE magazine wanted to do a portrait sitting with her during the time Sunset Boulevard came out. Swanson arrived in a nervous, exhausted state but it resulted in one of the most famous, fabulous shoots she ever did.

(after Gloria was crying)

(first attempt, Gloria in the park)

Gloria was sent to do a portrait sitting for LIFE magazine. She began to cry and photographer asked her why. The nervous Gloria said she was tired and that she was being pushed, pulled, manipulated in every direction, etc by the publicity department for Sunset Boulevard. The photographer suggested that they take a walk in the park so she could calm down and collect her thoughts. And it worked. When they went back to the studio they randomly changed her wardrobe to long black leather gloves with a strapless gown which in result made her look twenty years younger than the makeup and outfit she had previously for the shoot. And in ten minutes the shoot was over with the photos he had needed, the famous leather black glove shoot.

(final result)


  1. that's so cool! I love the photos. my parents actually SAW her in person once walking down 5th avenue in white furs. apparently she was just the same in person, just as dramatic!

  2. Oh wow I am jealous of your parents! haha She always did dress in a fabulous way! And obviously all the old movie stars were members of PETA lol.

  3. Love these! Oh, I was just reading i the Michael Powell book I got yesterday--apparently Michael Powell wrote the screenplay for the film Gloria did with Laurence Olivier!

  4. That's a very interesting story, and marvelous photos! Sunset Boulevard is such a fantastic film, but I haven't see any other Gloria Swanson movies. I'll have to remedy that!

  5. Amazing story - I never knew....!