Hollywood Lens of Murray Garrett

DATELINE:  Eye on Hollywood 1950s

 Odd Couple: Marilyn & Dale Robertson?

You may not know his name, but the photo-journalist of choice among Hollywood minions of the 1950s was a New Yorker with a keen sense of beauty. He protected his subjects—and they appreciated it.

Murray Garrett started out at age 16 taking photos of celebrities. He even apprenticed with one of the big Broadway photogs and learned how to visualize stars on stage, meeting the likes of Brando and Ferrer In their stage phase.

As someone who met and worked with a few celebs, we can confirm that the lessons and observations of Murray Garrett are more than a means to live with stars: it is a sense of decency that sensitive people, artistic souls, easily spot.

The documentary of his career and life shows that Murray knew how to see the best in people—and took a photo of it.  His pictures show clarity of heart, beauty and honesty in every subject.

At 16 in New York, he was to take a photo in Frank Sinatra dressing room in 1943, when the singer was first going solo. Sinatra asked for a print—and Garrett said, of course. Sinatra was snidely disbelieving, but the kid returned the next day with an envelope and left it.

Three years later he was in Hollywood at a studio and walked through the commissary—and Sinatra recognized him! He told others the kid was a great photographer from New York, and Garrett was on his way.

He was a personal photo-journalist, and took pix at Sinatra parties.

Later, he met Bob Hope who grunted at him from the stage during a radio broadcast. Thinking he’d offended Hope, he went to apologize after the show, but Hope liked him—and wanted him to be an exclusive photographer for his shows. Their relationship last 25 years. He became a personal photo-journalist for Red Skelton and Louella Parsons too.

He was the antithesis of an “ambush photographer,” and stars could trust him to destroy any unflattering images.  Yet, it was more than that: he actually talked to his subjects before shooting and seemed to win relaxation that showed up in pictures.