Rare behind-the-scenes photos show what it was really like to be on set during Hollywood’s golden age

caption
Marilyn Monroe on set for the film “There’s No Business like Show Business,” 1954.
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Hollywood’s golden era is generally considered to have started in the 1920s and stretched until the 1960s. The latter half was the time of some of the industry’s most legendary stars: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando, to name a few.

A child star during the time, Angela Cartwright still remembers the excitement she felt whenever the word “action” was announced on set.

She also remembers the photographers who would be snapping away to help filmmakers keep record of all of the costume, hair, and makeup choices made on set.

In the book she wrote with Tom McLaren, called “Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives,” Cartwright curated the best photos from 6,500 boxes of studio archives. These were negatives that had been kept away and mostly untouched until the late 1990s.

“Each photograph reveals the raw essence of Hollywood movie-making, a glimpse into the process never intended for the public eye,” she wrote in the introduction.

Ahead, see behind-the-scenes photos of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars from that era.


These on-set photos were taken to maintain continuity between days of shooting. Directors, makeup artists, and costume designers would reference images to make sure everything was exactly the same day to day.

caption
Sophia Loren, “Boy on a Dolphin,” 1957
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

“The stills would largely consist of an actor standing next to a placard. Upon the placard, the movie title, actor name, character name, and scene number were hastily scribbled down,” Cartwright wrote.

caption
John Wayne, “North to Alaska,” 1960
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

“More images would have been snapped on the set between takes as quick references for the wardrobe and hair departments,” she wrote.

caption
Marilyn Monroe, “Let’s Make it Legal,” 1951
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

In some of the photos, actors are pictured with combs, brushes, or makeup tools, like in this one of Kim Hunter. “This was merely to designate which department would receive the images once they were developed,” Cartwright said.

caption
Kim Hunter, “Planet of the Apes,” 1968
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Some photos were taken simply to document what went on behind the scenes.

caption
Dustin Hoffman, “John and Mary,” 1969
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

This type of image was “far more revealing than the posed publicity photos used in magazines,” wrote Cartwright.

caption
Sidney Poitier, “No Way Out,” 1950
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

On the set of “The Young Lions,” actor Marlon Brando (pictured) had a rivalry with co-star Montgomery Clift. Both method actors, the two decided to distinguish their characters with makeup, rather than just focusing on costume. Instead of dealing with a wig, “Brando simply bleached his hair,” according to “Styling the Stars.”

caption
Marlon Brando, “The Young Lions,” 1958
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

The film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was made on a modest budget, and costume designer Edith Head could only afford to design one of the character’s costumes entirely from sketch to screen. To assemble Robert Redford’s costume, used pieces were pulled from the Twentieth Century Fox wardrobe department, while others were rented from the Western Costume Company.

caption
Robert Redford, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1969
source
Photo provided by Insight Editions from Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archives. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.