Bruno Bernard, professionally known as Bernard of Hollywood, was one of the most sought-after glamour photographers of Hollywood’s Golden Era.
He was the first still photographer to be honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 1984 with an honorary exhibition of 150 of his photographs of such luminaries as Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, Ginger Rogers, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball and others. His legendary studio on Sunset Boulevard was a Hollywood landmark for decades. He branched out to his desert oasis at The Palm Springs Racquet Club, the exclusive hideaway for the stars, and the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas where he ran a glamorous penthouse salon photographing headliners and the most gorgeous showgirls. “No one knew the name Bernard, but they all knew Hollywood . . .” Bernard stated and hence was created the trademark signature, Bernard of Hollywood, that for decades visually insured the image of glamour.
He fled Nazi Germany in 1937, alone and penniless, with a doctorate degree in criminal law. Born into poverty in 1912 in Berlin, Germany, he and his four siblings were on welfare by the time he was 8 years old and were placed in orphanages. Encouraged by his ailing parents to get an education, he attended Kiel University where he received his doctorate. He was in the two percent of Jews to gain a doctorate in 1934. As general secretary of the Jewish underground movement, his life was at risk and he was on the Gestapo hit list. In 1937, at the age of 26, he escaped and immigrated to America, where he continued his post-graduate at the University of Berkeley. By 1940 he was torn between academia and the arts and became a directorial apprentice under Max Reinhart’s Actor’s Workshop. He set up his first darkroom in the basement of his Hollywood apartment in 1941.
Professor Reinhardt planted the seed that came to fruition in his directorial approach to photography, which would later be coined “the posed candid.” With Alberto Vargas in historical collaboration, he would pioneer the art of pin-up photography with the “elongated leg.”
By the early 60s, he sold his three landmark studios to return to his homeland, Berlin, and became a foreign photojournalist, covering the Eichmann trial for Der Spiegel. He was so moved, he compiled the best seller Israel Impressions, and in ‘69 began building a Mediterranean three-story villa on the pristine beaches of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and plunged into artistic evolution and discovery.
Since his passing in 1987, his daughter, author Susan Bernard, founded Bernard of Hollywood/Renaissance Road, Inc. to preserve, exhibit, publish and license internationally his legendary work and famous trademark, introducing his art to a new generation. Bernard’s work has generated feature articles in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, American Photo, Entertainment Weekly, etc. The Bernard of Hollywood trademark has co-branded with such names as Harley Davidson and there are more than 60 existing international licenses in collectibles, giftware, stationary and fashion apparel.