Tom Kelley

Tom Kelley was born in Philadelphia in 1914. Kelley soon discovered his passion for the camera and decided to pursue a career which would allow him to follow his dreams of becoming a professional photographer. His first important job was as an apprentice in a New York photo studio. During his time spent at the photo studio agency, Kelley built a reputable and interesting portfolio which gave him the confidence for moving to Hollywood in 1935 to try and become a famed photographer of Hollywood movie stars. Once in California, he was assigned to take photos of movie stars created by David O. Selznick and Samuel Goldwyn. Among his many clients, Tom Kelley took pictures of Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Henry Fonda, James Cagney, Jane Russell, Carmen Miranda and Gene Kelly to name but a few.

Tom Kelley soon realized how profitable and long lasting a career as an official photographer of movie stars could be. Therefore, he decided to take a more commercial approach to his photos in order to meet his clients’ needs and requests. One day, while working at his studio in Hollywood, a young and up-and-coming actress showed up and requested a photo shoot. The actress was Marilyn Monroe and she was very young at the time, still trying to make it in the Hollywood film industry. Kelley decided to photograph her completely naked, while laying on a red velvet sheet. This picture will later become a symbol of feminism and sensuality, as well as one of the most beloved photos ever taken of Marilyn Monroe. The reason why this photo is much loved is because of the childlike innocence and real happiness that can be seen and admired on the actress’ face, unlike her later photographs in which she appears to have a veil of unhappiness on her smile, which clearly shows what a troubled young woman she was.