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Hollywood stars in Douglas display


Photographs of stars including Audrey Hepburn, found in an old filing cabinet, are to go on display for the first time

Photographs of stars including Audrey Hepburn, found in an old filing cabinet, are to go on display for the first time

Photographs of stars including Audrey Hepburn, found in an old filing cabinet, are to go on display for the first time

Photographs of Hollywood stars found in a dusty old filing cabinet are to be exhibited for the first time.

Thousands of images, including pictures of Audrey Hepburn and Dirk Bogarde, taken by photographer George Douglas were discovered at his Brighton home by neighbour and fellow photographer Roger Bamber, who inherited the property following his friend's death.

The negatives, which had not seen the light of day for years, include images from the 1940s to the 1960s of Gary Cooper, former US president Harry Truman, Roger Moore and Peter Sellers.

There are also social and historical images of the period, including the Queen's rat-catcher and Britain's first female chimney sweep, Mr Bamber said.

Just 30 pictures from the archive will go on display at Mr Douglas's former home in Sillwood Road as part of the Artists Open Houses festival in May.

Photographer Nigel Swallow, who is now living in the property, said he is expecting it to take him at least a year for himself and Mr Bamber to sort through the photographs, and that he has taken advice as to how it can be properly archived.

Mr Swallow said: "It's something that should be taken very good care of and I am chuffed that I have been asked to look after the archive.

"The first priority is making sure we preserve George's work."

Mr Douglas, whose nickname was Speedy George due to his fast-paced work ethic, worked for many years at Picture Post magazine.

He spent much of his time in California, but would spend his summers in Brighton, Mr Bamber said.

He retired to live in his house full-time in 2007 until his death in December 2010 at the age of 88, he continued.

Mr Bamber said Mr Douglas, who was born in Rottingdean, East Sussex, but moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1939, trained in aeronautical design engineering but his heart was not in it.

He said: "The Leica camera he bought from a pawnshop consumed his spare time and once he had sold his first picture, for 30 US dollars, he handed in his notice.

"He sold his first photographs to the Los Angeles Times in the 1940s and moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1948, where he was in charge of photography for the Sun Valley News Bureau, taking pictures of famous visitors including Gary Cooper and President Harry Truman.

"In 1949 he moved back to LA and began his career as a celebrity photographer with a picture of Angela Lansbury for Life magazine.

"But it was an English magazine that intrigued him. He noticed that Life photographers he admired had trained in London on the Picture Post, which specialised in 35mm photography and a documentary style.

"He set off for England in 1950. A set of pictures of two children with their pet boa constrictor got him through the door and became the first of many assignments he undertook for Picture Post.

"He fell 'more than a little in love' with Audrey Hepburn when he spent a fortnight photographing her in New York as she prepared for the Broadway production of Gigi, and became friends with the novelist Paul Gallico and the actor Peter Sellers."

Picture Post closed in 1957 and George turned to women's magazines and the TV Mirror, Mr Bamber said.

He went on: "In 1964, the Beatles asked him to become their photographer on the set of A Hard Day's Night.

"Paul McCartney had been impressed by George's portraits of his then girlfriend Jane Asher; but two weeks at the Twickenham Studios besieged by screaming teenagers was enough to persuade George that he was not cut out for pop photography."

Full listings for the Artists Open Houses can be found at www.aoh.org.uk.