Photo library focus: mptv images – a centennial celebration of founder Sid Avery

Photo of photographer Sid Avery circa 1955. Sid shot almost every cinema giant of the mid-20thcentury and pulled off a feat surpassing even that: he captured them unguarded, stripping away the studio and P.R. artifice to find the people hiding underneath.

 

California based entertainment photo library mptv images is celebrating what would have been the 100 birthday of founder Sid Avery this month.  Sid was born in the Peoples Hospital, Akron, Ohio on October 12 1918 – he passed away in 2002. Sid founded mptv images 25 yers ago.
“My father told his mother when he was about 14 years old that he wanted to be a photographer. His mother was horrified at the thought of my dad dragging his camera gear and a pony around the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights taking pictures of children on ponies. This was the mid 1930s.” Ron Avery (Sid Avery’s son & President of mptv Images)
Here’s what they sent us:

Sid Avery At the “Tinsel:Stars That Shine” opening at Apex fine art October 19 2001 © 2001 Ron Avery

 

From 1938 to 2002, Sid Avery shot thousands of images of Tinsletown’s greatest stars for the most popular magazines of the day. A pioneer of a candid new style of Hollywood portraiture, his ‘snapshots’ offered a behind-the-scenes peek at the world’s most beautiful people; a glimpse into the ordinary lives of the private, A-list elite. He later made history as the only photographer to shoot both the original 1960’s cast of “Ocean’s Eleven” and the 2001 remake, recreating his iconic shot around the pool table.

Avery’s talents, low-key demeanor, and ability to work through his subjects’ love-hate relationship with celebrity-dom gave him unparalleled access. Actor Humphrey Bogart was a notoriously difficult subject. Avery was not only allowed to shoot at Bogart’s home but Bogart invited Avery to spend several unforgettable days photographing his everyday life. Along the way, Bogart volunteered to set up shots of he and wife Lauren Bacall with their son, resulting in timeless photos of the iconic couple.

James Dean on the set of “Rebel Without a Cause” 1955 © 1978 Sid Avery

 

It was while archiving his photography catalogue in the early 1980s that Avery came upon the idea for mptv Images. Much to his frustration, he discovered that irreplaceable film and photos he’d taken of celebs like James

Dean and Natalie Wood on the set of “Rebel Without a Cause” and Marilyn

Monroe on the set of “Bus Stop,” had never been returned by magazines which had since gone defunct. Realizing other photographers were having the same problems, he founded mptv to help his contemporaries keep track of their photos and protect their copyrights from being wrongfully exploited.

Today, Avery’s works hang in the MOMA, the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, and the Met, and mptv licenses one of the most important collections of celebrity photography in the world. mptv is not only Avery’s legacy but it has become the legacy of all of the photographers that mptv represents.

• Other legendary photographers represented at mptv images are Bob Willoughby, Mark Shaw, Bruce McBroom, Sanford Roth and Bobby Holland, amongst others that make up the vast collection.

• Learn more about Sid’s life HERE