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Fabulous Portraits of Classic Hollywood Actresses by John Engstead in the 1940s and 1950s

American photographer John Engstead was born in 1909 in California. He became Paramount’s studio portrait photographer in 1932. Engstead was fired from Paramount Pictures in 1941, and Harper’s Bazaar hired him for freelance advertising and portrait photography assignments. He also worked for numerous other magazines, including Collier’s, Esquire, House Beautiful, Ladies Home Journal, Life, Look, Mademoiselle, McCall’s, and Vogue during the 1940s. Engstead photographed many celebrities, including Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Maureen O’Hara, and Shirley Temple. In contrast to other photographers, he often photographed his subjects at home or outside. He built a studio in Los Angeles that became a gathering place for celebrities.

He photographed movie stars and celebrities throughout the 1950s and 1960s (Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich). Additionally, he shot cover photos for albums recorded by singers such as Peggy Lee and Connie Francis. In the 1950s, he worked with governmental figures, such as then-Second Lady Pat Nixon. Engstead closed his studio in 1970 but continued to accept special photoshoots and television assignments until he died in 1984 at age 72 in West Hollywood, California.

He took these pictures of classic beauties in the 1940s and 1950s as part of his work.

#1 Anne Baxter, 1940s

Anne Baxter, 1940s

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#2 Anne Baxter, 1940s

Anne Baxter, 1940s

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#3 Ava Gardner, 1940s

Ava Gardner, 1940s

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#4 Carole Lombard, 1940s

Carole Lombard, 1940s

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#5 Ginger Rogers, 1940s

Ginger Rogers, 1940s

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#6 Lauren Bacall, 1940s

Lauren Bacall, 1940s

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#7 Lauren Bacall, 1940s

Lauren Bacall, 1940s

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#8 Loretta Young, 1940s

Loretta Young, 1940s

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#9 Loretta Young, 1940s

Loretta Young, 1940s

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#10 Loretta Young, 1940

Loretta Young, 1940

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#11 Patricia Morison, 1940s

Patricia Morison, 1940s

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#12 Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1940s

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1940s

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#13 Loretta Young, 1941

Loretta Young, 1941

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#14 Lauren Bacall, 1943

Lauren Bacall, 1943

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#15 Lauren Bacall, 1943

Lauren Bacall, 1943

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#16 Ann Miller, 1944

Ann Miller, 1944

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#17 Joan Fontaine, 1944

Joan Fontaine, 1944

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#18 Lauren Bacall, 1944

Lauren Bacall, 1944

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#19 Myrna Loy, 1944

Myrna Loy, 1944

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#20 Myrna Loy, 1944

Myrna Loy, 1944

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#21 Elizabeth Taylor, 1948

Elizabeth Taylor, 1948

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#22 Elizabeth Taylor, 1948

Elizabeth Taylor, 1948

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#23 Elizabeth Taylor, 1948

Elizabeth Taylor, 1948

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#24 Anne Baxter, 1950

Anne Baxter, 1950

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#25 Marilyn Monroe, 1950

Marilyn Monroe, 1950

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#26 Marilyn Monroe, 1950

Marilyn Monroe, 1950

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#27 Shelley Winters, 1950

Shelley Winters, 1950

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#28 Audrey Hepburn, 1953

Audrey Hepburn, 1953

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#29 Audrey Hepburn, 1953

Audrey Hepburn, 1953

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#30 Audrey Hepburn, 1953

Audrey Hepburn, 1953

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#31 Marlene Dietrich, 1953

Marlene Dietrich, 1953

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#32 Marlene Dietrich, 1953

Marlene Dietrich, 1953

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#33 Audrey Hepburn, 1953

Audrey Hepburn, 1953

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#34 Marlene Dietrich, 1955

Marlene Dietrich, 1955

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#35 Marlene Dietrich, 1955

Marlene Dietrich, 1955

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#36 Marlene Dietrich, 1955

Marlene Dietrich, 1955

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#37 Audrey Hepburn, 1956

Audrey Hepburn, 1956

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#38 Judy Garland, 1956

Judy Garland, 1956

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#39 Marlene Dietrich, 1957

Marlene Dietrich, 1957

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#40 Marlene Dietrich, 1957

Marlene Dietrich, 1957

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Written by Orla Morris

Full-time dress and costume designer, Half Persian half Italian. I still don’t know how to write, but i'm writing and you are reading :)

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