Monday, August 15, 2011

Frank, Sammy, Marilyn and the Singer

Revised 2/9/12; 2/10/12; 2/11/12

Scan of front cover of the June 19, 1953 issue of Motor World magazine.

No, not that Frank, but rather the famous photographer Frank Worth. And by Singer I mean the roadster again.

Frank Worth had the job to the shoot some Singer/celebrity publicity shots, as well as the cover car for the June 19, 1953 issue of the biweekly Motor World magazine. Back then most magazines had a 90 day publishing cycle - in other words, the issue you put to bed today would hit the newsstands in three months. Biweeklies had a tighter cycle, so the latest Worth could turn in his assignment for the June issue was about mid-April.

The subject car was to be the new Singer SM 1500C Roadster. Since Worth was also on contract to 20th Century Fox Studios to shoot stills of one of their current productions, he used some down time between shots to do the car shoot in the studio's parking lot. He could even bring along some up-and-coming starlet to spice up the cover shoot and gin up some publicity for the studio's current effort. A real twofer.

He first shot the Singer possibly belonging to either Donald O'Connor or Debbie Reynolds (see More Scooters, Another Singer post below), but couldn't use it for the cover shot because the custom paint job wouldn't cut it as being representative of a factory-fresh car. Instead he used a brand-new Singer SM 1500C Roadster supplied by Vaughan-Singer Motors of Hollywood, and invited Sammy Davis Jr. over for more celebrity shots. Sammy, an enthusiastic amateur photographer and camera collector in his own right, showed up with his best friend and business partner Arthur Silber in tow. Lo and behold, the up-and-coming starlet Worth brought along wasn't a mere starlet after all, but Marilyn Monroe, who was already rocketing to major stardom. This would cause just about any red-blooded American male to jump for joy:
FWC_Marilyn_3 a

Compare the dress on the magazine cover with the one in this scene from the movie How to Marry a Millionaire:
stand a

A screen capture from the Technicolor movie:
how a

That movie, on which filming had begun in early April (and premiered in November!), was the one for which Worth was shooting the publicity stills. He certainly had spare time between scenes, since there were over 250 different shots in the movie. By-the-by, this was the first ever movie to be filmed in CinemaScope, but it wasn't released until the second one, The Robe, had been released.

Here are some of the shots that didn't make the cut for the cover:
S1 aS2 a
S3 aS4 b
S5 aS6 b

S8 a

That last color one appears to have been shot by Sammy, and shows the car to be red.

Frank Worth finished the cover shoot, then continued to take publicity pictures, including this one of Marilyn signing photos for Sammy and Art:
trio a

Incidentally, here is one of those studio "head shots" of Marilyn that are on the hood in the above picture:
Art's pic a
One of Marilyn Monroe's studio headshots from 1953. Autographed to and owned by Arthur Silber.

She signed it "To Art, Love and kisses, Marilyn Monroe" Art kept it.

The scenes where Marilyn's character Pola Debevoise is wearing this dress must have wrapped already, otherwise I don't think she'd be allowed to sit on the grass in it. Here she is posing for Frank Worth, but Sammy Davis Jr. took this shot:
grass a

Here is the shot that Worth took - it's of Sammy taking the picture of Marilyn:
grass2 a

Next Marilyn posed next to Frank Worth's rare 1951 Riley RMD DHC (drop-head-coupe)—one of about 500 made for that particular model:
R1 a
Marilyn Monroe posing with Frank Worth's 1951 Riley RMD DHC. Photo thought to be by Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy shoots Marilyn as she poses for Worth:
R2 a

The picture Worth took:
R3 a
In 2007 Christies's auctioned off an original, numbered (29/245), limited edition print of this black and white photograph (with photographer's stamp) with a pre-auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. It sold for $2,280.

Then, to wrap things up, Sammy took a picture of Worth and Marilyn together next to Worth's car:
R4 a

So Singer got its hot little roadster graced by a hot star on the cover of an important (then) auto magazine; Marilyn, and to a lesser degree, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Sammy Davis Jr. got some free publicity; 20th Century Fox got its movie promoted five months before it opened; and Frank Worth got paid twice. Nice work if you can get it. I'm available, No, seriously, I'm available.

Best quote from the movie How to Marry a Millionaire: Lauren Bacall's character, Schatze, says, "I've always liked older men... Look at that old fellow what's-his-name in The African Queen. Absolutely crazy about him."

All photos by Frank Worth unless otherwise noted. Frank Worth’s collection is now exclusively available from Guy Hepner. Apparently the collection is now handled by Capital Art.


Anonymous said...

very interesting, thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

Love it