The first in an occasional series of classic photos of legendary figures in often unexpected combinations.
Today we have celebrities but once, we had stars. And sometimes, those stars would collide in unlikely but immediately classic moments captured on film. There’s something impressively cool about these photos – even the crudest of them – that the current crop of narcissistic, empty celebs could never match.
David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor
As unlikely as it sounds, Liz Taylor was an admirer of Bowie‘s and wanted to meet him, potentially as a co-star for her 1976 movie The Blue Bird. Taylor and Terry O’Neill waited for two hours before Bowie showed up at George Cukor’s Hollywood home and Taylor was on the verge of leaving. Nevertheless, something clicked between them and O’Neill snapped a series of informal yet striking shots. Bowie did not, however, get the film role. You don’t keep Hollywood royalty waiting.
Gerard Damiano and Mary Millington
By the late 1970s, Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano was the king of Porno Chic thanks to impressively arty films like The Devil in Miss Jones and Memories Within Miss Aggie. For reasons best known to himself, he came to England to discuss the idea of shooting a film in a country where hardcore remained strictly illegal and met up with David Sullivan, who was about to become Britain’s last smut movie mogul. As part of the publicity for the visit, Damiano posed with several glamour girls for a series of shots. Among them was Mary Millington, soon to be Britain’s number one sex symbol. Sadly, a more productive collaboration between the two never happened.
(Update: as Nick points out in the comments, the other girls are Sullivan regulars Tessa Carroll, Gloria Brittain and Lisa Taylor).
Jack Nicholson, Harry Reems and Warren Beatty
Still with Deep Throat… in 1974, that film’s star Harry Reems was arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines, despite only being an actor in the film; other performers did not face similar charges, but Deep Throat and Reems were being made an example of. He was convicted in 1976, the first actor ever to be prosecuted simply for appearing in a film. Sensing a line being crossed, the Hollywood establishment showed their support – less out of a love for Reems (who would be immediately shunned by the film establishment once he won his appeal in 1977) and more out of self-interest. Nevertheless, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty were prepared to testify on his behalf during the trial, only to be told that their evidence was irrelevant to the case. This photo seems to capture the awkward and brief relationship between the three.
James Hunt and Sue Shaw
James Hunt was the swaggering Sex God of Formula One racing, back when the sport had personalities tearing up the track. Hunt was always up for getting together with glamour girls and after winning the World Championship in 1976, he celebrated by taking part in a photoshoot with Page 3 girl Sue Shaw. The resulting photos seem to encapsulate a 1970s cool, the like of which we are unlikely to see again.
Andy Warhol, John Trevelyan and Paul Morrissey
John Trevelyan was the British film censor during the 1960s, a time of major moral upheaval and the slow, painful relaxation of censorship worldwide. Because of this, he’s sometimes seen as a liberal reformer, but anyone who looks at his track record or reads his self-important autobiography What the Censor Saw will know how untrue that is. Like James Ferman after him, Trevelyan had quite the cultural snob, and in this case, this meant that he wanted to mix with the stars and the filmmakers as if he was somehow on the same level as the creatives whose work he routinely butchered and banned. Here he is meeting Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey, whose work he both supported and banned – famously, he suggested that their film Flesh played a London cinema club and spoke up in its defence when the police raided the screening; yet he felt that the film was too strong for the oiks outside the London club scene and was much less supportive of less explicit but less ‘respectable’ movies that he banned without a second thought. Presumably, he is here telling Warhol and Morrissey how dangerous their work would be for car workers in Birmingham (to quote Ferman’s great culturally elitist gaff of some years later).
Lemmy and Samantha Fox
The pairing of the Motörhead leader and Britain’s most famous glamour model is both odd and obvious. Odd because they seem worlds apart culturally; obvious because Lemmy had a taste for Page 3 girls (he’d dated Debbie Linden) and why wouldn’t he home in on Fox? But steady on, there. By all accounts, their relationship was entirely platonic, more father and daughter than anything according to Fox (who, despite her own pop music career, was a rock chick at heart). Lemmy was always up for odd collaborations and the pair worked on a recording project that we can only regret never saw the light of day – a track called Beauty and the Beast and a cover of the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers duet Islands in the Stream – before teaming up for live performances as part of the Hawkwind ‘Hawkestra’ show in 2000. The above photo is a knowing riff on the reputation of both: Beauty and the Beast, indeed.
Oliver Reed and Madeline Smith
We could probably fill this post with photos of Oliver Reed – for a man with a disdain for celebrity and a preference for mixing with ‘the common man’, he had the habit of being photographed with famous chums quite a lot. Though I suppose no one cared to photograph him with bricklayers and the like. But this is a particularly glorious shot as he poses with his fellow Hammer Horror star, the fantastic Madeline Smith.
Pierre Cardin and Raquel Welch
Pierre Cardin was known for his futuristic, space-age designs alongside a classical style, and in this 1970 photoshoot – again by Terry O’Neill – he appears alongside the 1970s biggest sex symbol, Raquel Welch, showing both sides of his design style. What a dress!
Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper
In 1973, Salvador Dali caught Alice Cooper‘s wildly theatrical stage show and saw a kindred spirit. He decided that they must work together, and for Cooper – a long-time admirer – it was a dream come true. The plan was to create a holographic portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain, and followed this with a more physical creation, The Alice Brain – a ceramic model of the human brain with a chocolate eclair in the centre and painted ants spelling out the names ‘Dali’ and ‘Alice’. No one, I suspect, is going to do that for Harry Styles.
Germaine Greer and Vivian Stanshall
Back in the 1960s, Germaine Greer was an editor of Suck, would refer to herself as a ‘superwhore’, ‘supergroupie’ and ‘Dr G, the only groupie with a PhD’ and wrote a sex column for Oz magazine. In issue 19, she posed with Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band leader Vivian Stanshall for the cover and a provocative, magnificent poster image. Once again, this seems unimaginable now.
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