Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Bert Stern: 1929-2013


Celebrity and fashion photographer, Bert Stern, best known for being the last photographer to shoot actress Marilyn Monroe in 1962, died at home in New York City on June 25. He was 83.

Stern began his career in 1946 at Look magazine as an assistant to art director Hershel Bramson, where he worked with Stanley Kubrick, who was then a Look photographer. From 1949 to 1951, Stern served as art director at Mayfair magazine and later moved to ad agency LC Gumbiner, where he began shooting his own photos. He opened his own studio in 1954.

In his most famous photo session, Stern spent three days at the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles on assignment with Marilyn Monroe to take images for Vogue magazine. Known for decades as the "Last Sitting," the images are mostly nudes, with Monroe covered on little more than a bed sheet and a gauzy scarf. Six weeks later, Monroe died of a drug overdose, and many of Stern's steamy images were published posthumously. Stern later published most of the photos and contact sheets in 1982 as a book, called "Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting."

Stern's work appeared often in Vogue, Life and Glamour magazines. Some of his commercial clients included IBM, Noxema and Revlon, as well as such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor, Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy, Iman and Drew Barrymore. Stern’s images have been exhibited at the Staley-Wise Gallery in New York and many galleries worldwide. In 2006, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

Earlier this year, Stern was the subject of a documentary, "Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man," which focused on the many affairs he had with his female photographic subjects and how his infidelity helped end his marriage to the ballerina Allegra Kent. Stern also co-directed the documentary, "Jazz on a Summer’s Day," about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.