Phil Stern’s career started in New York City as a photographer for the Police Gazette. He later joined Friday magazine and moved to Los Angeles, where he first began photographing Hollywood stars. During this period, he freelanced for Life, Look, and Colliers magazines. World War II interrupted, but Stern’s career flourished as a combat photographer in North Africa, where he was part of “Darby’s Rangers,” a much heralded fighting unit. Wounded and awarded a Purple Heart, Stern was reassigned to cover the invasion of Sicily for Stars and Stripes.
After the war, Stern returned to Los Angeles as a freelance photographer and he began working on the sets of more than 100 feature films, including: “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” “Some Like it Hot,” and “Westside Story.” At the same time, Stern photographed album covers for the Verve, Pablo, and Reprise record labels.
His Hollywood contacts led to his appointment by Frank Sinatra to be the official photographer of the John F. Kennedy inaugural gala. His friendships with and access to legendary figures resulted in unforgettable portraits of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Alfred Hitchcock, and Humphrey Bogart.
In his books, “Phil Stern’s Hollywood” and “Phil Stern: A Life’s Work,” he presents portraits of some of the greatest figures of the 20th Century.
In 2001, Stern donated his library of Hollywood images to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He currently lives in Los Angeles.