Laszlo Willinger, Hollywood Photographer, Dead at 80
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hungarian-born photographer Laszlo Willinger, who profiled such stars of Hollywood’s golden era as Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, died of heart failure, his publisher said Saturday. He was 83.
Willinger died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Tuesday, said publisher Edward Weston.
A professional photographer since he was 16, Willinger devoted his career to taking pictures of illustrious personalities, and was recognized as one of Hollywood’s top photographers.
″The only thing that was expected of me was to make images that the press would choose to print over everyone else’s,″ Willinger said in an interview last year. ″You must realize that there were 5,000 pictures available on any major star. To get printed, yours had to be the best.″
Willinger was born in Budapest, Hungary, on April 16, 1906. While a teen he ran his first studio in Berlin. At 19 he went to Paris, where he managed the portrait studio of the Keystone Agency, also known as the Talbot Studios.
He opened his own studio in Vienna, Austria, when he was 23. Among his European subjects were Sigmund Freud, Maurice Chevalier and Josephine Baker.
But with war brewing, Willinger left Europe for Hollywood in 1937 and joined MGM studios.
″I don’t think that at any time in history more people so talented on every level had ever come together as in the Hollywood of those decades,″ Willinger said of the 1930s and 1940s.
Willinger said his favorite photo subjects were Miss Crawford, Vivien Leigh and Gable. ″They knew what was expected of them,″ Willinger said. ″These stars not only cooperated, they were eager. Some actors didn’t understand this, and you never heard from them again.″
Willinger left MGM in 1944 and shot stock photography and advertising. He worked for 40 years with FPG, a New York photo agency that stocked some 50,000 of Willinger’s transparencies.
Willinger is survived by his wife, Yvonne. Funeral arrangements were not disclosed.