Hollywood at Home: 1950 to 1965

Bogart and Bacall

Hollywood at Home provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at the crossroads between the last real glamour years and the TV decade. It is a remarkable portrait of mid-century America.”

So reads the back cover of Hollywood at Home: A Family Album (1950 – 1965), a slight yet strong volume  from Sid Avery‘s lens and Richard Schickel‘s pen.

And it’s quite true.

As film historian and cinema omnivore Richard Schickel writes in the introduction:

“In Sid Avery’s portraits of Hollywood in the 1950s, its citizens mime normalcy. They diaper a baby, fry an egg, play charades, wash their cars. Beloved screen veterans… the serenity and seemliness with which all of them face the camera in this, the entertainment industry’s most chaotic moment since the advent of sound, strikes the social historian– not to mention the movie critic– with a strange and occasionally poignant force.

Some variant on this question keeps recurring as one turns these pages: Why are these people smiling?”

And then: “Like these favored show folk, the rest of us ordinary citizens of the American 1950s were busy miming normalcy too. It was expected of us. A depression had been survived, a war had been fought, and now everything was supposed to be all right. … Get married. Have 2.3 children. Buy a house in the suburbs. Go to church. Send the kids to college. Die quietly. … But there was something abnormal about fifties normalcy. …

“As with all fictions, one was free not to by it. But the mass media did buy it and sell it. And we, the great audience, bought it from the movies and the magazines and the broadcasters. We also did our best to resell it, to our sometimes dubious sielves, and then to each other.

The pictures in this book were made as part of that process. They represented Hollywood as it wanted to see itself and to be seen by outsiders: securely functiononing and paparently contducting business as usual.”

Far be it from me to expound upon Schickel’s words, so I leave you with them… and Avery’s sumptuously subliminal shots.

Ernie Borgnine as Chef

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Paul and Jo, laughing at home.

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Paul Newman cooks as Joanne Woodward snooks w/ their puppy

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Shelley Winters with hubba hubby Vittorio Gassman

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Rock Hudson (in apron) serving up a mean BBQ to his guests...

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And..... ROCK.

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Debbie Reynolds-- the ultimate working mum with kiddies Todd and Carrie. (1960)

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Ohhhh Brando. You'd be SO nice to come home too...!

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Audrey Hepburn and hubby Mel Ferrer

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Dean Martin at home with the wifey and kiddies. Too cute.

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Brando. 'Nuff said.

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Gen Y reject and wage slave extraordinaire.

7 thoughts on “Hollywood at Home: 1950 to 1965

  1. I love those classic “At Home with the Stars” types of photos. They seem to have been a staple of Fifties picture magazines. Many years ago, I helped a friend clear out the garage of his late grandfather, and we found a “cache” of Life Magazines, a nearly complete series of 1953-1956, i think. This reminds me so much of that — almost every issue had at least one pictorial like these devoted to the “normal” hum-drum everyday home lives of “the stars.” But I have to say that the one with Brando in suit with briefcase has a surreal quality to put it mildly . . . !

    1. I think surreal is quite an accurate description, indeed! It’s got the white collar “Honey, I’m home” quality that is so very, VERY un-Brando!

    1. Ha, and I thought I was an expert on Gene Kelly’s face! I found a pic of Brando wearing the same shirt as that in the picture, so I stand corrected by me!! I had that pic in my collection for several years without ever really thinking it might not be Gene. Can I ever hold up my head again in Kellyland??
      I must do more studying…….

  2. Brilliant! Where were able to find all of these great photos? If it’s a secret, trust me I understand. I may have to add you to blog roll. Cheers!

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