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George Hurrell

Revered Hollywood photographer George Hurrell was born in Covington, Kentucky on June 1, 1904. His family relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio shortly thereafter, which is where he pursued his fascination with painting. He reproduced his painting through photography, but throughout his adolescence, painting remained his first love. At 16, Mr. Hurrell moved to Chicago to study painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Academy of Fine Arts, which he left before completion in 1922. For the next two years, he worked hand-coloring photographs for various commercial studios until he was hired to work for portrait photographer Eugene Hutchinson. It was here he received his formal photographic education, learning various types of lighting, darkroom techniques, airbrushing, and negative retouching.

In 1925, Mr. Hurrell moved to California and settled in Laguna Beach. He combined his passion for painting with his more lucrative photography work, making portraits of local artists and their paintings. He soon established himself as an innovative portrait photographer among the social elite, and capitalized on his newfound reputation by relocating to Los Angeles. Silent film star Ramon Novarro admired his innovative uses of light in portraits, and hired Mr. Hurrell to take his publicity portraits. Actress Norma Shearer, who was under contract to MGM, saw Mr. Novarro's portraits and wanted to hire Mr. Hurrell to promote her as a sexy leading lady. She sought to convince her husband Irving Thalberg, MGM's head of production, that she was capable of playing more than cute ingenue roles. In a single session, Mr. Hurrell's masterful manipulation of lighting and pose conjured a sexier image of Norma Shearer, which enabled her to earn the coveted lead role as a vixen in The Divorcee, for which she won an Academy Award. For his efforts, Mr. Hurrell won a contract with MGM.

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2013-05-26 18:34:30
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