Hollywood actors

Classic Hollywood: Actors ready for close-ups in ‘Styling the Stars’

A dashing and good-natured Cary Grant posing in his bathing suit for a photographer on the set of his heartbreaking 1957 romantic drama “A Deal to Remember.”

Doris Day, dressed in fuzzy pajamas and slippers, mugs for the camera on the soundstage of her 1967 spy comedy ‘Caprice.’

And Marilyn Monroe modeling the back of her original – and suggestive – costume for her “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number in 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, which was considered too risque and replaced by the pink dress.

The three screen legends are among more than 150 stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age featured in the lavish new book “Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures From the Twentieth Century Fox Archive.” The book was written by artist-author Angela Cartwright, the former child star of ‘Lost in Space’ and ‘The Sound of Music’, and actor Tom McLaren, with a foreword by acclaimed actress Maureen O’ Hara, who was one of the studio’s top stars in the 1940s.

These eye-catching images from the 1930s to the early 70s were known as the studio’s “continuity” photographs. They were taken once the actors were ready for the camera to ensure their costumes, hair and makeup were identical throughout production.

Actors were often placed next to a sign with pertinent information such as character and scene. Sometimes they were photographed holding a comb or brush if the photo was directed to the hair department or a puff if the image was taken for makeup continuity.

Cartwright came up with the idea for “Styling the Stars” when she was in the Fox archives in Century City, researching photos for the 2011 book “The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook.”

“I came across some continuity footage from the film and was really taken by the level of photography and the photographs themselves,” she said. “They were crystal clear and filmed with a big camera. I actually remember shooting them. While I was in the archives I said, ‘Wait a minute, every frame had shots of continuity.”

She called McLaren, whom she had known for several years, and invited him to work on the book. “I knew what a huge undertaking it was and I knew I couldn’t do it alone,” Cartwright said.

The two gave the archivist a list of favorite movies and stars they wanted in the book and quickly began rummaging through dusty old boxes for the photographs.

Even though posing for continuity photographs was part of an actor’s job, that didn’t mean he was happy doing it. Frank Sinatra looks like the Chairman of the Bored in two images from his 1968 film “Lady in Cement.” And Bette Davis seems to be taking her role as Queen Elizabeth a bit too seriously in a series of photographs from 1955’s “The Virgin Queen.”

But there are other actors like Paul Newman who were playful. “There really was no direct shot from Paul Newman,” Cartwright said. “He made a face in every photo.”

Dean Martin photo-bombs Cyd Charisse in a pic from Monroe’s unfinished 1962 comedy “Something’s Got to Give,” and even Marlon Brando can’t keep a straight face in his photographs for 1958’s “The Young Lions.”

“Men are often more relaxed and laid back,” McLaren said. “What I found was that women tended to take it a little more seriously. They would like to pose as a graceful, elegant woman.

Because many of these images were taken on the fly, the sets were often anything but glamorous. There’s a photo of Ann-Margret vampirizing her in a sultry dress in front of a hodgepodge of studio equipment on the set of 1964’s “The Pleasure Seekers.”

Some photographs were taken on set, but others were taken in a former portrait studio before the day’s shooting began. This group includes photos of Cartwright and some of his castmates in 1965’s “The Sound of Music,” including Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and the six young actors who played his Von Trapp “siblings.”

Cartwright and McLaren end the book with images from the mid-1970s. After that, the studios moved on to Polaroid photos. Digital cameras are now used to take continuity photos.

Even though these photographs were taken just for studio use, the stars managed to look perfect.

“None of these images are photoshopped,” Cartwright said. “To see these people filmed on the fly and still looking so good, you realize the actors had a magic about them.”

Twitter: @mymackie