"Don't Smile, Dahling"--Francesco Scavullo Dead at 81

Excellent photographer–could shoot rings around that talentless hag Annie Lebowitz.

NEW YORK (AP) – Fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo, who shot covers for Cosmopolitan magazine for more than 30 years, died Tuesday morning of heart failure, his companion said. He was 81. Known for works ranging from enamel-on-canvas photo silkscreens to portraits of celebrities such as Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, Scavullo was also recognized for his photographs of children. One of the most famous was his 1975 portrait of a young Brooke Shields.

Born Jan. 16, 1921, on Staten Island, Scavullo was one of five children whose father owned the old Central Park Casino. As a youth he got a job assisting the fashion photographer, Horst, and learned much of his craft from him. He later worked for Vogue and Seventeen magazines before launching a lucrative and lengthy career that included photographing covers for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and other magazines. At the peak of his career he commanded as much as $10,000 a sitting. “He was one of the most generous people I ever met in my life,” Byrne said. “He helped a lot of needy people and never mentioned it.”

I’ve never heard of Scavullo, and I know nothing about fashion, but I stand in slack-jawed awe of seriously talented photographers. I looked up Scavullo’s Web site, and he’s got some really fantastic shots in the “Gallery” section. The Andy Warhol shot is priceless.

Although I like Annie Liebowitz’s stuff just fine, thanks, I remember when Scavullo was the name dropping in every fashion and entertainment magazine and being intrigued enough to start looking for his name on photos. I doubt I could do it now, but back in the late 70s I could ID his work pretty handily on sight. Sad to hear of his passing.