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21 March 2012

Bernard of Hollywood

Bruno Bernard (1912 – 1987) fled from Nazi Germany to the USA in the 1930's. As Bernard of Hollywood he became one of the most popular glamour photographers of tinseltown. In 1961 he returned to Germany, where he photographed many European starlets and also worked as a set photographer.

Mylène Demongeot
Mylène Demongeot. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/66. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Marisa Mell
Marisa Mell. German postcard by Krüger, nr. 902/349. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Margaret Rose Keil
Margaret Rose Keil. German postcard by Krüger, nr. 900/288. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Rita Cadillac
Rita Cadillac. German postcard by Krüger, nr. 902/296. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Heidi Brühl
Heidi Brühl. German postcard by Krüger, nr. 902/319. Postcard: Bernard of Hollywood.

The Vargas of Photography
Bruno Bernard was born Bruno Bernard Sommerfeld (or Sommer) in Berlin, Germany in 1912. At age 11, he became interested in photography when his parents gave him his first camera. As a young man he worked as a photographer and reporter, and earned a Ph.D. in criminal psychology at the Kiel University in 1934. His activism in a Jewish youth organization landed him on the Gestapo’s blacklist, and caused him to emigrate to the United States in 1937. He settled in Los Angeles and set up his first photo studio in the basement of his apartment in 1938. Two years later he moved to a new studio on the Sunset Strip. Agent Paul Kohner, who helped many Europeans flee after the rise of Adolph Hitler and re-establish themselves in Hollywood, took notice of Bernard’s work when he opened his first studio. Kohner sent him clients, and thus brought him to the attention of the film industry. Soon he was called The King of Glamour Photography and The Vargas of Pinup Photography, after his mentor, pin-up painter Alberto Vargas. Over the next two years, Bernard opened studios at the Palm Springs Racquet Club, at Laguna Beach, and at Las Vegas’s Riviera Hotel.

Sophie Hardy
Sophie Hardy. German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/290. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Brigitte Jelinek
Brigitte Jelinek. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/299. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Maria Perschy
Maria Perschy. German postcard by Krüger, nr. 902/373. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Barbara Valentin
Barbara Valentin. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/192. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Vivi Bach
Vivi Bach. German postcard by Krüger, nr. 902/274. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Strippers, Showgirls, Starlets
Bernard of Hollywood photographed most of the big stars of Hollywood of the 1940's and 1950's: Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck, Anita Ekberg, and of course Marilyn Monroe. One of his most famous photos was of Monroe holding her white pleated skirt down from a blast of steam from a New York sidewalk gratein in The Seven Year Itch (1955, Billy Wilder). He was credited with introducing Monroe to Johnny Hyde, who got her a contract with 20th Century-Fox. Bernard's artistic muse was the legendary striptease artist Lili St. Cyr, a stunner with a sense of humor. Bernard of Hollywood's pin-up works range from strippers, Vegas showgirls; unknown, poignantly unnamed models; to all the starlets of the 1950's and 1960's.

Pierre Brice
German postcard by Kruger. Photo: Bruno Bernard/CCC Produktion. Publicity Still for Old Shatterhand (1964, Hugo Fregonese) with Pierre Brice as Winnetou.

Lex Barker in Old Shatterhand
German postcard by Kruger. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood (Bruno Bernard)/CCC-Produktion. Publicity Still for Old Shatterhand (1964, Hugo Fregonese) with Lex Barker as Old Shatterhand.

Letícia Román
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/302. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood / CCC-Zugsmith Co-produktion. Publicity still for Fanny Hill (1964, Russ Meyer) with Letícia Román.

Renate Hütte, Britt Lindberg
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/358. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood. Publicity still for Fanny Hill (1964) with Renate Hütte and Britt Lindberg.

Legends
In 1961 Bruno Bernard sold his studios and started a new career as a foreign correspondent and photojournalist in Europe. For the German postcard publisher Krüger he photographed European starlets in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Among them were German film stars as Heidi Brühl, Maria Perschy and voluptuous Barbara Valentin, aka the German Jayne Mansfield. Bernard of Hollywood also photographed the original, when Jayne Mansfield was working in Europe after her Hollywood career had dried up. Bruno Bernard also worked as a still photographer for films including the erotic film Fanny Hill (1964, Russ Meyer) and the Eurowestern Old Shatterhand (1964, Hugo Fregonese). In 1984 Bernard was the first still photographer to be honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy organized an exhibition of more than 120 of his photographs. In addition to his photography, Bernard published six books before his death in 1987. He died of cancer in Los Angeles, 75 years old. He was survived by his daughter, Susan, and his grandson, Joshua Miller. In a review on a book Susan made about her father's work, Kevin Thomas wrote in The Los Angeles Times: "There is in Bernard's pinups an exuberant sexuality that is both innocent and mischievous, seductive yet sweet. Surely, it was the rapport that Bernard had with movie stars and models alike that yielded these wonderful combinations."

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield. German postcard by Krüger, no. 900/78. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield. German postcard by Krüger, no. 900/78. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield. German postcard by Krüger, no. 900/78. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield. German postcard by Krüger, no. 900/78. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield. German postcard by Krüger, no. 900/78. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield. German postcard by Krüger, no. 900/78. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Sources: Kevin Thomas (Los Angeles Times), Adrienne Miller (Esquire), Bernard of Hollywood.com, and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

What a wonderful pictorial. Thanks Bob