Ev Crawford

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Bette Davis // Judy Garland // Joan Crawford // Marilyn Monroe // Audrey Hepburn // Barbra Streisand // Angela Lansbury // Natalie Wood // Vivien Leigh

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When Joan Crawford showed up [for the first session in 1956] with her daughter Christina and two tiny poodles, she was very drunk. Walking up to Eve, Crawford kissed her on the mouth — the two had never met — took off all her clothes, and demanded that Eve photograph her nude. At this point in her career, Crawford was aging and fearful of losing her place in Hollywood to younger, fresher talent. She seemed desperate to show that she still had the body she had displayed when she started out and (although she tried to bury the fact) appeared in “blue movies”, soft-porn films.

Eve was caught in a dilemma. Crawford kept insisting on the nude shots, but even though she was slim and good-looking for a fifty-year-old woman, she was still undeniably a fifty-year old woman. Eve knew that the pictures would not please her. <…> While Eve might make a great deal of money by releasing the pictures, she would never recover from the damage such an exploitative act would do to her reputation. In the end, Eve capitulated, but instead of sending out the slides, she gave them to Crawford in a yellow plastic box over lunch a few days later. — From the book Magnum Legacy: Eve Arnold

Joan Crawford photographed by Eve Arnold, 1959.