Back before tabloid photography played such a major role in shaping the reputations of the Hollywood set, actors relied on real photography (i.e. the posed, carefully lit, artfully angled, softly focused studio portrait) to promote themselves. Far more than just a headshot, these portraits had a major impact on an actor’s career. Take Jean Harlow. She went from being an uncredited bit plater to a stunning leading lady opposite James Cagney in THE PUBLIC ENEMY – virtually overnight – as the result of a particularly good portrait. Harlow was just 20-years-old and fresh off the bus from Kansas City, but under the lens of master photographers like George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull, she was transformed into the blonde bombshell we know her as today.
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