February 12th, 2008

carole lombard 02
  • vp19

When capturing glamour was Paramount



We've noted that Carole Lombard was the subject of more than 1,600 publicity stills during her seven years at Paramount (and that doesn't count stills specifically from movies). Now it's time to examine the work of one of those photographers, Eugene Robert Richee, who took the classic portrait above.

Not much is known about Richee, other that he was born in Denver in 1895 and worked for Paramount between 1925 and 1935. He later occasionally worked for MGM, but his career beyond 1944 is unknown. The Internet Movie Database doesn't list his death, but a Mae West blog (West was among the Paramount stars Richee photographed) says he died in 1972. This is Mae as photographed by Richee in 1932, not long after she arrived at Paramount:



If there's one actress Richee is most associated with, it's Louise Brooks, who had a semi-successful career at Paramount in the mid-twenties before heading to Germany to make her most famous films. Brooks later said of Richee, "Eugene Richee used to take sixty shots in two hours. We never said a word to each other. Perfect relationship."

Richee took many photos of Brooks, but here are the two he's most famous for:



Richee worked with just about every leading lady on the Paramount lot. Here are a few of his subjects:

Anna May Wong...



Clara Bow...



Fay Wray...



Marlene Dietrich...



Sylvia Sidney...



...and Tallulah Bankhead.



His work with Lombard was quite extensive, and no doubt her increasing expertise with lighting and cinematography helped make these shots even more effective. Here are a few, from 1931, 1932 and 1935 respectively: