George Hurrell began his career as a photographer working for MGM during the Golden Age of Hollywood, during which time he
photographed some of the most famous movie stars of the period, and as a result became one of the most famous studio photographers
in Hollywood. He became known for his use of light that included spotlights and shadows, and hand-retouching, which produced
romantic portraits that became his signature style. He continued to use this style throughout his long career, defining the
idea of glamour in photography. The Lou D'Elia collection on George Hurrell includes many of the photographs that made Hurrell
famous, as well as examples of his later work photographing musicians and fashion. The collection also includes documentation
of Hurrell's business in the form of correspondence and business records, personal and family materials, and information on
exhibits of Hurrell's work.
George Hurrell was born in 1904 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Determined to become a painter, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago,
and moved to Laguna Beach, California, to join the thriving art scene there. His first paid work in photography was making
record shots of paintings for other Laguna Beach artists. A chance meeting with socialite Pancho Barnes opened the door for
Hurrell to meet and photograph Hollywood stars such as Ramon Navarro and Norma Shearer. Hurrell's early Hollywood portraits
were so well received that soon after, in 1929, he was offered a job as the head portrait photographer at MGM, the leading
Hollywood film studio.In 1967 while still a high school student, Louis F. D'Elia began purchasing Hurrell photographs from used book stores and
movie memorabilia stores on Hollywood Boulevard and in Pasadena, and at local weekend movie memorabilia paper shows held in
the Los Angeles area. Over the following decades, D'Elia expanded his acquisitions to publications (e.g., Vanity Fair, Vogue,
Photoplay, Playboy) in order to include examples of the photographer's published works along with vintage examples of Hurrell's
fine art photography in museum exhibitions that D'Elia was co-curating or guest curating. Since 1978 when D'Elia met Hurrell,
he maintained a close relation both with the photographer and his extended family. In the mid-2000's, Hurrell's children gifted
a substantial number of work prints, newspaper clippings, magazines and records concerning the photographer's career to D'Elia.
Subsequent purchases from the family of Hurrell's paintings, photography and camera equipment were made, and the collection
contains copies of documents recording these transactions and individual purchases that he made from the family.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.