Friday, January 25, 2008

Ellen Graham’s eye on the world: Warren Beatty

On my computer screen as I write there is a black and white contact sheet of a young and handsome Warren Beatty reclining on a bed or sofa. I have it on my screen because today’s NYSD introduces a new bi-monthly addition: photographer Ellen Graham’s eye on the world she knows, has known.

I first knew Ellen and her husband Ian Graham in Los Angeles where they have a wonderful house in Beverly Hills and often entertain with cocktail parties. Ellen’s fabulous photographs are kept mainly in one large room, a gallery/library. There are so many famous faces in fascinating places that you can’t resist being distracted by them. Many times you’d see the same faces out on the Grahams’ terrace or around the pool during cocktails. In 2004 she published some of them in her “The Bad and the Beautiful” (Harry Abrams) with Christopher Walken on the cover.

Warren Beatty

I met him in New York in 1967. He came to a party I gave with Susan Fonda. I didn’t know who he was at the time but I thought he was absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t see that much of him after that until I was in California. I was shooting a piece for Harper’s Bazaar on the 100 Most Attractive Men in the world (we only got to about 12). I asked if I could shoot him for it and he very graciously agreed. By then he had become a major player in every sense of the word.

Ellen Graham
He had an apartment at the Beverly Wilshire. We did a few things outside on his  terrace and then I thought it might be good to get something a little more intimate. I guessed that Warren Beatty’s always in bed, so I asked if I could shoot him there and he agreed willingly.

The shoot took about a couple hours because Warren was on the phone half the time.

The last time I photographed him was about five years later, on the set of Shampoo. I had arranged to shoot Julie Christie who was living at his house. I photographed her there and the two together.

He was always charming and gracious with me, and a complete gentleman. A very well mannered guy.

— Ellen Graham

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