Here's Looking at You, Kids
10/20/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT
Phil Stern had made a name as a photographer in Hollywood in the '40s when he met Frank Sinatra, who asked Stern to take pictures of his children. That began a series of star-child photo sessions lasting into the '60s. Stern, now 66, has released candid photographs from those sessions, including these examples.
Little John Ethan Wayne looked like a chip off the old Duke when he joined his dad on location for True Grit in 1969. Stern remembers Ethan, now 24 and an actor and stuntman, on another location, in Durango, Mexico. The boy asked his father, "Daddy, how come you work in these god-awful places, like Mommy says?" Replied Daddy: "So your mommy can buy tennis balls."
Bing Crosby was captured by Stern in 1964 with wife Kathryn, son Harry III and a big one that didn't get away. Stern recalls flying down to the fishing trip, off Las Cruces, Mexico, in Crosby's private plane, "with two passengers: a Steinway and me."
Humphrey Bogart was leaving for a studio meeting in 1956, Stern says, when daughter Leslie (by Lauren Bacall) asked, "Daddy, will you play with me?" Leslie, who is now 34, has been an administrative assistant for the Hollywood Photographers Archives, which is devoted to preserving old stills.
Kirk Douglas was on a chilly night location for The War Wagon (with his co-star John Wayne, right) in 1967 when, Stern says, Douglas gave a playful boot to son Eric. Eric, who is now 27, is an actor, having appeared in such films as the TV movie Remembrance of Love.
Jack Lemmon was shooting Some Like It Hot in 1959 when he was snapped with son Chris (now 32, and currently featured with his dad in That's Life). Lemmon said the photo reminded him of an early Picasso.
Mickey Rooney and son Timmy (now 39, he runs a ranch for his dad) were in their Beverly Hills backyard when Stern shot this circa 1949. Timmy's mother was Betty Jane Rase, second of Rooney's eight wives.
Gary Merrill and Bette Davis stroll along Malibu Beach in 1951 with their daughters Margot and Barbara. Barbara, nicknamed B.D., grew up to write the 1985 memoir My Mother's Keeper, an account that infuriated Merrill. He and Davis adopted Margot, who is retarded and who now lives in a New York State institution.