On the Set of The Graduate: Bob Willoughby


Bob Willoughby studied cinema at the USC Cinema Department, and design at the Kahn Institute of Art with Saul Bass. While studying, he apprenticed with Hollywood photographers. In 1954, Willoughby’s career changed course when Warner Brothers asked him to photograph Judy Garland on the set of A Star is Born (1954). Life magazine ran a feature with over a dozen of the photographs of Garland working on set, using a close-up photograph of her for the cover. This was the starting point for a long and illustrious career as the first ever stills photographer employed on Hollywood film sets.

Willoughby went on to photograph a huge spectrum of acting elite – including this iconic scene showing Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross running from the church in Mike Nicholls’ The Graduate (1967). These moments of cinematic history were documented with the empathetic but photojournalistic eye for which Willoughby gained his reputation. As Giles Huxley-Parlour states, “He opened the door, which turned into a flood, for a new type of celebrity imagery that offered a new level of access.”

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