Bob Willoughby was born on June 30th 1927 in Los Angeles. His photographs are included in the collections of The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., The National Portrait Gallery, London, The National Media Museum, Bradford, UK, The Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, The Musee de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, Beverly Hills. CA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC, The Tate Gallery Collection, London, & The Musee de la Photographie et de l’Image, Nice, France.
Bob Willoughby was also presented with the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Still Photography for Motion Pictures, in New York in 2004. Unfortunately only a few of his iconic images were signed prior to his untimely death in December of 2009, making them the rarest of photographs.
Bob Willoughby, whose photographs have transformed the images of Hollywood’s biggest stars, is a true pioneer of 20th century photography. He was the first “outside” photographer hired by the major studios to create photographs for the magazines, and was the link between the filmmakers and major magazines of the time, such as Life and Look.
Bob Willoughby’s career took off in 1954 when Warner Bros. asked him to photograph Judy Garland’s final scene on the set of “A Star is Born.” His portrait of the freckle-faced star became his first Life cover. From then on his production was phenomenal. His images were in print literally every week for the next twenty years. As the first “special feature” he covered the making of over 100 films, including the 1960’s movies “The Graduate,” “My Fair Lady,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”.
Willoughby’s body of work, documenting this historic era of filmmaking, is unsurpassed. He captured with wonderful perception the most famous actors and directors of the time on and off the set, in unguarded moments of repose, vulnerability and high drama.
Sydney Pollack said in the introduction to Bob’s Autobiography; “Sometimes a filmmaker gets a look at a photograph taken on his own set and sees the ‘soul’ of his film in one still photograph. It’s rare, but it happens. It happened to me in 1969, the first time I looked at the work of Bob Willoughby during the filming of ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”