The late Frank Worth was a leading Hollywood photographer. His close friendships with, and access to, top stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, James Dean and Jayne Mansfield made his work an intimate chronicle of some of the most glamorous personalities of the 50s and 60s.
Frank Worth captured and retained extensive collections of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean photographs, most of which were never seen. Frank also had a long personal relationship with Marilyn Monroe, including an affair. He took many photos of the young actress years before she made the first film that brought her stardom, “The Asphalt Jungle.”
Frank Worth never released his best photos. Some of his shots were to him as private as his personal life. He only admitted to his affair with Monroe just months before his death.
A rare and highly valuable collection of negatives that were accumulated over a period of 60 years was found by his estate in Frank’s home after his death in 1999. The negatives reveal a diverse, previously unseen catalog of Frank Worth’s Hollywood friends, acquaintances and sports stars, representing an array of the famous stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Christie’s of London called it "the most extraordinary collection and find of its kind in the last 50 years."
Frank was born in New York City in 1923. During his senior year in college he approached the New York offices of the International News Service (INS) with some of his photos and was offered a trial position. His first assignment was to photograph actors and actresses as they arrived at Grand Central Station getting off the California Express train. Frank’s charming rapport with his subjects convinced INS to send him to Hollywood as a staff photographer after he graduated in 1940.
Frank Worth became a member of the Hollywood Photographers Guild. He quickly met and became close friends with many top stars, including James Dean, with whom he shared a fascination for sports cars. Frank was invited by Dean to go behind-the-scenes on the sets of "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant." Frank also was a regular at many other movie sets and film premieres including "How To Marry a Millionaire" and "The Seven Year Itch."
Frank Sinatra came to Hollywood a couple of years after Frank Worth and they too became close friends. Sinatra introduced the photographer to "Rat Pack" regulars Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Lewis even had a part in Frank Worth’s unreleased film, "The Silent Treatment" (1967), a movie that included many of his friends such as Peter Lawford, Phyllis Diller and Jackie Coogan.
Frank also photographed Oscar and Golden Globe ceremonies and after-parties, candidly capturing the likes of the Marx Brothers, Errol Flynn, Rock Hudson, Sofia Loren and Judy Garland.
When Frank was on location in New York during the making of the "Seven Year Itch" director Billy Wilder posed Marilyn Monroe, her skirt blowing up, over an opening to the subway system. Frank shot the picture of Billy showing Marilyn how to pose.
Many photographers were invited to take photos of the scene, but because Joe DiMaggio objected to Marilyn’s panties being seen, she concealed them during this photo shoot. Frank Worth had the only "panty" photo known in existence with Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe. He released that photograph only once, for the front page of the Hollywood Reporter for an issue dedicated to Billy Wilder. Frank also had an intimate relationship with Jayne Mansfield. In fact, The Jayne Mansfield Fan Club newsletter of May 1987 credits Frank with her discovery. Worth’s friend, Burt Kaiser, produced "Female Jungle," the first movie to feature Mansfield.