American photographer Phil Stern’s pictures told a thousand iconic stories. From the U.S. Army Unit stationed in North Africa during World War II to capturing portraits of the movers and the shakers who rose to fame in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Stern’s lens captured important moments in our political and pop culture history.
A child of Russian immigrants, Stern was born in Philadelphia in 1919. His professional career began when he moved to hour and apprenticed in a New York photo lab. His first photography assignments were for such prestigious magazines including “Life”, “Look” and “Colliers.” After enlisting in the U.S. Army during WWII, Stern joined the elite flying unit “Darby’s Rangers” as a combat photographer, capturing the harsh and brutal battles raging in North Africa. He also covered the invasion of Sicily for “Stars and Stripes” magazine. After the war, he received a Purple Hear to wounds received during the Battle of El Guetier, and went on to establish himself as a Hollywood insider. Icons that Stern’s lens captured include Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Marlon Brando and Audrey Hepburn.
His photography was not limited to film stars – he also captured many of the music industry’s recording sensations including Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum and Ella Fitzgerald.
In honor of Phil Stern’s 95 birthday, a special exhibit of 95 prints he donated to the Veterans Home of California – West Los Angeles, was presented late last year. Special guests who spoke in honor of Stern include director/producer Brett Ratner and Gisele Schmidt (Fahey/Klein Gallery).
Along with the 95 prints Stern donated to the Veterans Home of California – West Los Angeles, a selection of digital images Stern has taken document his days with the residents at the Veterans Home were on display. Guests watched a trailer of “Phil Stern: Eyewitness”, a documentary of his life that is currently in production, along with a screening of the 30 minute Italian documentary, “Phil Stern: Sicily 1943, The War and Soul” Music was provided by Johnny Vana and the Big Band Alumni.