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Melbourne Spurr

b. 1917

Melbourne Spurr, born in Decorah, Iowa, arrived in Hollywood around 1917. Despite almost total deafness, he gained employment with the noted photographer Fred Hartsook, taking portraits of early film stars. While working with Hartsook, Spurr photographed Mary Pickford, and it was she who helped launch his career as a Hollywood portrait photographer. By the mid-1920s he was one of the world’s leading celebrity portraitists, his subjects including Mary Astor, Marion Davies, Pola Negri, Theda Bara, Constance and Norma Talmadge, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Walter Pigeon, Fatty Arbuckle, John Barrymore and the tragic ‘Baby Star’ Lucille Ricksen. However, as he operated his own premises, rather than attaching himself to a major motion picture studio, he lost work to the studios’ preferred inhouse operators. After the 1920s, he photographed prominent figures outside the movie business. Scores of gorgeous photographs by Spurr are viewable on the internet.

Updated 2018
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