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Fahey/Klein Gallery : Phil Stern & Bob Willoughby : Picture’s Up – Phil Stern


The Fahey/Klein gallery presents Phil Stern & Bob Willoughby: Picture’s Up, an exhibition of photographs by two legendary photojournalists and Hollywood photographers. As chroniclers of Hollywood and the Jazz scene, both Phil Stern and Bob Willoughby produced iconic images during their long and illustrious careers. Their photographs convey an extraordinary access, and mutual trust, between photographer and subjects. Stern and Willoughby – in their unique and individual ways – pioneered a behind-the-scenes approach to documenting Hollywood that contributed to an entire era’s visual vocabulary of “cool” that feels undeniably authentic today.

Phil Stern’s career in photography began early on, as a high school student growing up in New York, Stern swept floors in a Canal Street photo studio while working nights taking pictures for the notoriously noir Police Gazette. Phil Stern enlisted in the Army in 1942 and joined the ranks of the elite “Darby’s Rangers” as a combat photographer. Stern was well known among his war colleagues for putting himself front and center as he documented battles in North Africa and Sicily. The credit stamp “Photo by PHIL STERN”, which ran alongside his images in the armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes, became synonymous with a truly genuine image taken under fire by a daring young photographer. Wounded in action, at the Battle of El Guettar, in Tunisia, Phil Stern was awarded a Purple Heart. After returning home to Los Angeles, he was assigned to cover the homecoming of Darby’s Rangers for LIFE magazine, which helped usher in his second career, as a Hollywood documentary photographer. Phil Stern began working for Look, LIFE, and Collier’s to chronicle what would become a shared American history.

Phil Stern’s straight forward approach and charming demeanor earned him all-access to President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural gala, studio mogul Sam Goldwyn’s inner sanctum, on-set lunches with Frank Sinatra, and holidays in Acapulco with John Wayne and Gary Cooper. Phil Stern photographed on over a hundred movie sets, including the legendary films “Citizen Kane”, “A Star is Born”, “The Wild Ones”, “Guys and Dolls”, and “West Side Story”. Stern also became a fixture at studio sessions with Jazz superstars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, and Dizzy Gillespie and shot more than sixty album covers.

In 2001, Phil Stern donated his catalogue of Hollywood images to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His photographs have been collected and exhibited internationally.


Phil Stern & Bob Willoughby : Picture’s Up

November 4, 2021 through January 8, 2022

Exhibition Reception: Thursday, November 4th

Fahey Klein Gallery

148 North La Brea Avenue

Los Angeles CA 90036


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