Presented here are Hollywood images which Ned Scott created while he worked in the film industry from 1935 to 1948. The core of this listing is Ned Scott's own personal collection which he saved as he worked from year to year. The balance of these images comes from my research efforts, mostly through the internet since 2006, to seek out previously unknown personalities Ned Scott worked with during his assignments. Besides discovering films no one knew he worked during his career, I have also located additional high quality photographs of celebrities who are well known in his repertoire. These research efforts have been fruitful, and they are ongoing as I write this in September, 2013.
There have been surprises. Photographic prints demonstrate that Ned Scott was creative, as well as persuasive, in setting up photographic venues which were off-lot locations within the greater Los Angeles area. Hence one finds images of Ann Miller and Adele Jergens at sculptress Cornelia Runyon's house in Malibu--beach scenes, two piece swimwear, etc. One finds Janis Carter and Ingrid Bergman at Ned Scott's own house in La Canada, just west of Pasadena. Also located are a number of prints of celebrities in their own homes, busy doing usual things with their children and families: Nina Foch working at her art form (sculpture), Rita Hayworth at home with her dog and her daughter, Jeff Donnell and Marc Platt in similar family situations at their homes, Gene Autry and his wife at home, and the occasional photograph of a celebrity at the Beverly Hills Hotel. These kinds of images, organized this way, were highly prized by newspapers and magazines and they were very helpful in keeping the public emotionally tied to the stars of the day in ways that everyone could identify with.
All of these Ned Scott images were related to and created for the promotion of a film. The list of personalities is indexed on name, not the film worked, and this is purposely organized this way because of the topical nature of this listing. Some celebrities, for example Rita Hayworth and John Wayne, appear in both production photographs and portraits and the photographs represent these actors in a number of films. Other celebrities, for example Gene Tierney and Jimmy Stewart, are represented by images from only one film. I welcome any questions about films worked should there be interest in that topic. If you think that a certain photograph of Rita Hayworth is from the film "Cover Girl", but you are not sure, write with a question and I will be happy to respond. This body of information is vast, and while much has come to be known over the years, much has yet to be revealed. In Ned Scott's own words during an interview with Look Magazine in 1947, he stated that he shot in the area of 50,000 images per year.
The art of the Hollywood still photograph was not properly appreciated in the Classic Era. Studios never credited still photographers who worked their films. Credits scrolled at the end of the reels referring to experts in wardrobe, make-up, hair, sets, sound, etc.--all technicians from the production side of film--but no mention was ever made of the still man (or woman, and there were good women doing this work). It follows that the "art" of the still photograph was not appreciated as well.
What is unique about the still photograph? Some insight into this subject can be gained by reading Ned Scott's own discussion of still photogrphy, written in 1941. The structure and cadence of studio production created for the photographer special circumstances and opportunities which allowed for the creation of different photographic forms. But they were limiting to the photographer as well, and this feature of studio life laid the groundwork for the photographer's day around the sound stage. Out of this atmosphere emerged certain well defined photographic types--all discussd in Scott's 1941 article. But today, as we look back, can we say that these photographs qualify as "art"?
No doubt some of these do. But at the time of their creation, no photograher stood back, reviewing the item just created, and muttered to himself, "Now that's art". But today at auctions around the world Hollywood photographs have begun to gain sticking power, if not notoriety, for their art value. What Ned Scott referred to contemptously as "glossies" (8 x 10 studio lab produced rushes from the negatives made the day before) are now traded in online auction platforms. Lab produced oversize versions of these images on quality papers trade for considerable sums. I have witnessed items selling in excess of $10,000 US (11 x 14 Rita Hayworth portrait by Robert Coburn), and everything in between. I believe this trend will contniue to grow.
It's not the actor or scene represented in the photograph which captures us, it's what the photographer does with it that matters. A 1939 issue of the International Photographer Magazine points out certain aspects of Ned Scott's "Stagecoach" images, and from these comments can be gathered some idea of why these photographs are unique. During the chase scenes with the Stagecoach, for instance, Ned Scott was positioned just right, with the right equipment, to capture Yak Cannutt's fast moving 'W' horse going down head first. Such a shot required careful planning beforehand to get the proper camera position and desired action in the right frame. "Untheatrical" main characters, Berton Churchill and George Bancroft, reveal themselves in Ned's Scott's portraits as they were in screen life--the phony banker and the rough, no-nonsense sheriff. The magazine article explains how Ned Scott accomplished this with his protraits. He asked these two actors to speak their lines while turned away from his 8 x 10 Ansco and then turn to Scott's lens with all the force of their own characters revealed in facial expressions. These "swing into" shots were a type of still, a thing only found in Hollywood.
A sense of humor went a long way to ease tensions and increase productivity around the studio. Little things made a difference. Ned Scott always marched around with the well-chewed end of an Ohio Blue Tip stick match between his teeth. When he could find a few minutes to himself, he'd light up a cigarette--often with other production crew, or even with cast members. Sometimes these little events would result in an "off-stage" candid shot. It sounds hard to believe today, but nearly everyone smoked. And smoke breaks were important. Choreographed gag shots, with cast members in unscritped poses, brought comic relief to what was often a tense atmosphere. And these gag shots were hugely important to the publicity department because fans loved them. Besides being slightly goofy, they had a spontaneuos quality to them. One of Ned Scott's favorite gag shots comes from "A Thousand and One Nights". On the darkroom wall in his home in La Canada, California, Ned Scott posted an 11 x 14 image of Adele Jergens in her scanty harem attire, head up and face turned away with a sneer of contempt while a sword's tip lingered ominously over her bare midriff. Rocks take scissors, scissors take paper, paper takes rocks, and sex trumps the sword, any day. The day at Columbia studios was busy, frazzled, hectic, certainly, but never boring.