When did you first become aware of your grandfather's penchant for nude photography?
Silent film star Harold Lloyd
's most famous photograph is a still from his classic comedy Safety Last
, in which he's hanging from the hands of a clock face hundreds of feet in the air. That is until now. With the publication of Harold Lloyd's Hollywood Nudes in 3-D
(Black Dog & Leventhal), he will now forever be remembered as one of the most skilled pioneers of the pin-up.
Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd
edited the book, which comes with its own Harold Lloyd black, round 3-D glasses and an introduction by Robert Wagner
. Inside feast on some of the most vibrant, reach-out-and-touch-'em nudes ever collected. From the famous to the simply fabulous, like 38-24-35 Arline Hunter
Playmate from August 1954 and star of scintillating cinema such as Sex Kittens Go to College
, the book reveals a side of Harold Lloyd that fans of his films never knew existed.
Columbia TriStar is releasing Harold Lloyd's films, which have not been theatrically distributed since 1960. Thirty-one restored titles are coming to DVD next fall with all new scores from New Line. For further news go to haroldlloyd.com
, but for further nudes visit haroldlloydcollection.com
, where limited-edition photographs of Marilyn Monroe
) , Bettie Page
) , and other naked models are for sale.
I must have been close to seventeen years old. I had no idea he was doing them. I wasn't around when he shot them. His studio was in the handball court and it was very discreet. I never knew anything about it. I never heard anything about it.
In the end I stumbled across his photography lab, where he kept his slides and he did his cutting and editing. He just said, "Oh, yes, I took some of those pictures," and kind of just passed it off.
At that point he was shooting a lot of the world and shooting with his camera club, The Happy Seven, and being with the 3-D Stereo Society, Hollywood Club. They'd shoot in groups and sometimes they'd shoot models.
I remember them shooting all the Capitol Records album covers up at the estate. Also shooting a lot of catalogues, and I remember the models coming up for that. Sometimes they'd shoot covers for TV Guide
up at the estate.
I was nineteen-and-a-half when [Harold Lloyd] died. Then when I started going through the photography in 1989-'90 to do my first book, called 3-D Hollywood
, with the celebrities and Marilyn [Monroe], that's when I realized the depth of the nude photography.
I knew that he loved women and he shot a lot. And in that period of the '50s there were a lot of people shooting nude photography. There were camera clubs that did it. Then I found all the releases--that he paid all the girls through the agency.
It didn't really shock me. The more you started looking at them there wasn't anything on the seedy side. It was all about beautiful women, in a beautiful place and a beautiful setup.
What was it about the female nude form that so inspired Lloyd?
He really liked women. I can't say that he didn't sometimes play around. I know he did. But it wasn't like he was a lecher and he was running around or anything. I think that it was a thing that in the '50s they really had these camera clubs that went out, and he thought, well, I have a 3-D camera--3-D made everything so real--he could put these girls in beautiful locations and it was really something that was kind of a pop, fun interest. And he could do it, so he did it.
How'd he get so many gorgeous women to take off their clothes for him?
These girls used to do it for a living and they used to go out of Andy Anderson
's agency. I've got at least over a hundred releases all signed; he paid them. They were all paid models. It wasn't like grabbing a girl off the street and saying, "Strip for me in this hotel room." It was really a legit thing.
How'd Lloyd set the mood, get the girls to relax?
I don't think he was plying them with alcohol or anything. Did you see the picture [from the book] with the girl after the tiger shot? She's sitting there giggling with the blood on her and they're wiping it up. They were just having a good time.
And he had assistants with him; it wasn't like he was doing it alone. I'm sure he brought in sandwiches and food and Cokes and chips and whatever. He fed the girls. They had lunch breaks and they sat there and chatted about stuff.
A lot of them were starlets. If you read about [Russ Meyer
star] Tura Satana
) and [stripper] Dixie Evans
, he was more interested in how those girls were doing and how can I help you and, yeah, this is what happens or let me make a call for you and trying to help them along in their career.
Lloyd was one of the first to photograph Joy Harmon (Picture: 1
) , who later appeared in one of the sexiest car-washing scenes ever filmed, in Cool Hand Luke
. Did he shoot her naked?
No. She did not pose nude for him. She said how charming, wonderful, and kind he was to her and took her to lunch. Her mother came and said he couldn't have been nicer. He said, "I think you're going to have a great career. If you need help . . ." And then Groucho [Marx]
went on and helped her [she worked with him on the TV game show You Bet Your Life
How'd he end up working with Marilyn Monroe?
The first time he shot Marilyn was for How to Marry a Millionaire
. They were doing a sequence and they wanted to do it at various millionaires' houses and they decided to use [Lloyd]'s house as a setup. They were shooting that at Fox and obviously [Lloyd] was friends with [producer Darryl F.] Zanuck
. My grandmother, Mrs. Lloyd, Mildred Davis
, had actually worked for Zanuck in three films.
What happened there was they were going to do a commercial trailer to promote the movie and then it never got seen. [Lloyd] was there and he took the pictures, of course, because they were up at the house shooting and he was there with his camera.
Then his very dear friend, who he used to shoot with, Philippe Halsman
, invited [Lloyd] to come to the shoot when [Halsman] was shooting her for the cover of Life
. So Harold shot Philippe shooting her, with Philippe's lighting and everything for the setup for the cover of Life
Philippe and Harold were invited to Marilyn's apartment when she was dating [playwright Arthur] Miller
to do a photo shoot.
What did his wife think of all this?
I don't know. She turned the other eye. He didn't throw it in her face. When he was shooting the shots around the house either my grandmother wasn't there or she was traveling. She used to travel with me. They raised me, so I lived there, and I never saw any of it. And, you know, kids can be pretty snoopy.
Did he ever work for any of the men's magazines in the '50s?
He never showed any of these pictures. He only showed the pictures at the camera clubs. He used to do a nude show and then his other photography, the travel photography. He never showed them in public.
There are some great portraits of Bettie Page in the book. Did you try to contact her?
Yes. She's seen the pictures. She actually remembered the shoots, what she was wearing, but couldn't believe it was Harold Lloyd taking her pictures. She said, "I would have recognized him!"
But, you know what, he looked different because he was older. He looked like a businessman. He didn't have glasses on. He wasn't hanging off a building. You know what I mean?
He did very sexy Christmas cards with Bettie Page. Did he send those out?
No, he wasn't sending those out! My grandmother would have murdered him on that one, come on now.
Lloyd also worked with a lot of striptease artists, such as the stripper and B-movie star of The Astonishing She Monster Shirley Kilpatrick. It says in the book that he loved burlesque and took many pictures of Dixie Evans, billed the Marilyn Monroe of burlesque.
He had a great relationship with her. He'd take her to dinner and see her all the time in New York. He was a big supporter of her. I think they were really good friends. Do you know what I'm saying?
Should I be reading between the lines?
I kind of figured that one out. He also had a very sweet relationship with Tura Satana. He helped her a lot. She got a very bad face-poisoning with makeup and he gave her money to go to the doctor and sent her back home to her parents to recover. She said he was just darling about it.
Was Lloyd a fan of Meyer's work? Did he see Tura Satana in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!?
I'm sure he did. But he didn't take me to it [laughs]. I was sitting at home watching Bambi
, The Sound of Music
Did he ever make nudie moving pictures?
Only 3-D nudes, that was it, and it was really a hobby. He was real professional about it. He took it very seriously. You can see by those setups that they weren't just snapshots that were taken. There were props. I remember down in the handball court he had an array of props and feathers and hats, things that you'd use if you were in a prop truck.
Do you think your grandfather would like Mr. Skin?
I don't know. I'm trying think of Mr. Skin
. It's like Howard Stern
. I was asked if I wanted to go on Howard Stern Show
. Do you think I could live through it?