Talking Pictures, Book Release

by David Patrick Columbia, New York Social Diary

November 2011


Last week we covered a book signing for Ellen Graham and her new book Talking Pictures. Over the past weekend I got a chance to sit down with it. 

I met Ellen and her husband Ian years ago at a cocktail party at their house in Beverly Hills. I think I was first taken there by Lizabeth Scott, the siren of Hollywood’s film noir of the 1940s. Lizabeth’s portrait is in this current book.

Ellen had a room devoted to her photographs of mainly Hollywood people. Beautiful photographs but also people, many of whom she knew. So in a way a lot of them were photos of friends. But of course not just any friends. It seemed so perfectly Hollywood.

Ellen Graham’s portraits of movie stars did not look like ordinary people. Her style was borne of golden age of the studios where glamour was a given and the creative forces made it happen. Ellen’s movie stars came after that era but the memory lingered on. Even casual, these people look like they live on a different plane from the rest of us; and they do. Or did…

Their portraits make them movie stars. Not everyone was pretty but all stars had strong images based on their creative or physical attributes. And they dressed the part. They look real, but real good.

If you saw a Hollywood star in the audience of a Broadway theater or a famous restaurant, he or she looked like a movie star. They dressed for it. Even ugly guys who played monsters on the screen looked smart in their well-tailored pinstriped double breasted suits. That was the image enhancer that set them apart from the rest of the guys in the room. 

These are Ellen Graham’s subjects. The photographs are all black and white. A treasure of Super Duper. You’ll be glad ya did.