Richard Hewett Collection, 1952-1989

Finding aid created by Los Angeles Public Library staff using RecordEXPRESS
Los Angeles Public Library
630 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, California 90071
(213) 228-7355

Descriptive Summary

Title: Richard Hewett Collection, 1952-1989
Dates: 1952-1989
Collection Number: HEWETT_f001 – HEWETT_f155, HEWETT_b001 – HEWETT_b008
Creator/Collector: Hewett, Richard.
Extent: 20 linear feet
Repository: Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles, California 90071
Abstract: Photographer Richard Hewett spent over five decades capturing the essence of Los Angeles, covering subjects as wide-ranging as television productions, hospital staff, school children and animals both domestic and wild. As a photographer working for Los Angeles Times, Life, Look, Argosy, Venture, and TV Guide, Hewett’s assignments chronicled the wide variety of recreational and working life in L.A., including movie and television actors, animal trainers, stuntmen, business executives, citrus grove workers, store clerks, veterinarians, restaurateurs, teachers, musicians, artists, hippies and dancers. Locations include Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, Central Market, Miracle Mile, Disneyland, Marineland, Long Beach, Downtown Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and Central Receiving Hospital, which closed within months of his visit.
Language of Material: English


This collection is stored on-site at the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. It is open for research by appointment only.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Richard Hewett Collection, 1952-1989. Collection Number: HEWETT_f001 – HEWETT_f155, HEWETT_b001 – HEWETT_b008. Los Angeles Public Library

Biography/Administrative History

Richard Ridgley Hewett was born in 1929 in St. Paul, Minnesota and developed an interest in photography at an early age. When he turned thirteen, his father built a darkroom in the basement of their home, and at age sixteen, with his father’s consent, he joined the United States Marine Corps. Upon his military discharge, Hewett made use of the G.I. bill to pursue a career in photography and enrolled in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Following his graduation in 1952, he rented a guest house in Hollywood, and converted it into a darkroom and living space where by night he developed film for the popular nightclub Ciro’s, and by day he shot photo stories to submit to various magazines. In 1954 he sold his first photograph to Life Magazine, and followed up with his pictorial essay of teenagers in a record store listening booth for Life’s weekly “Speaking of Pictures” page. This put Hewett in demand as a lifestyle photojournalist, and steady work followed with the Los Angeles Times weekly supplement “This Week,” and then Look, Argosy, and Cosmopolitan magazines. He also had a long-running relationship with TV Guide, working for them consistently from 1958 until 1986. Later in life Hewett focused mainly on photographing subjects for children’s non-fiction books authored by his wife and collaborator Joan, and also Caroline Arnold. Hewett passed away in 2006.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Collection contains over 75,000 color and black and white frames of negatives, color slides, and prints in 120, 35mm and 4x5 formats. The earliest examples of his work are his color transparencies taken of the Art Center School’s Art Students Ball in 1952, with some featuring experimental solarizing techniques. His work for TV Guide, dating back to 1958, is his most prolific, featuring television actors in their homes and extensive coverage of productions on set, including table reads, lunch breaks, costume fittings, rehearsals and backstage pranks with cast and crew. Stories for other publications capture performances of concerts and plays, art exhibits, and recreational activities such as waterskiing, snowmobiling, parachuting, sailing, scuba diving and horseback riding. Post-war population growth and societal changes are depicted with photos of suburban development, swimming pool installations, party food preparation and a visit inside a family’s new bomb shelter. Animals are also a popular topic, including a cat who lives in an elementary school classroom; dogs on shopping trips; pet seals, goats, frogs and foxes; and a menagerie of professional animal actors. These lighthearted assignments for popular magazines are contrasted by intimate glimpses of doctors and nurses caring for patients, performing surgeries and the daily routine of a hospital, used in brochures and annual reports. Collaborations with his wife Joan for various children’s book projects round out the Collection, covering zoology, earth science and careers in politics, law, music and acting.

Indexing Terms

Photography--California--Los Angeles.
Entertainers--California--Los Angeles.
Entertainment industry--California--Los Angeles.
Documentary photography--California--Los Angeles.
Los Angeles (Calif.)

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