Drawn to the iconic figures and emblematic events of our age, celebrated photographer Phil Stern has documented World War II soldiers in combat in North Africa and Sicily, the luminous jazz legends of Verve Records, and Hollywood stars living the high life. Collected for the first time in this amazing tribute to Stern’s long-standing legacy, Phil Stern: A Life’s Work features never-before-seen photographs of the greatest figures and times of the American twentieth century.
Stern, who enlisted in the army on December 7, 1941, joined the ranks of “Darby’s Rangers,” a much-heralded fighting unit, as combat photographer. In North Africa documenting the harsh and brutal battles against General Rommel’s forces, Stern was wounded. Awarded a Purple Heart for bravery, he was then reassigned to cover the invasion of Sicily for Stars and Stripes. Covering the homecoming of Darby’s Rangers for Life, the assignments Stern shot for the magazine brought him into another intrinsically American experience: Hollywood. At the same time, Stern worked intermittently for jazz label legend Norman Granz, photographing album covers for the Verve, Pablo, and Reprise record labels.
A golden-era industry insider par excellence, Stern was tapped by Frank Sinatra to be the official photographer for the JFK Inaugural Gala. His friendships with and access to the greatest legends of the time allowed him to create indelible portraits—most seen here for the first time—of James Dean, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Lester Young, among many others. Stern’s oeuvre is studded with classic figures of entertainment at its best; and in Phil Stern: A Life’s Work they come together to form a brilliant constellation around this truly star photographer.