Friday, May 15, 2015

Latest inspiration

I love this 1956 album cover. I would buy it if I could justify spending $75 for it. I may have to emulate this style on some collages, if I can just find some photos of people with space helmets.

I noticed the photo was by Wendy Hilty and I thought wow! a female commercial photographer from the 1950s. Alas, no, "Wendy" was a man. I couldn't find much about him, so I dug a bit deeper and present herewith a brief if incomplete biography.

Oscar Wendellin Hilty was born 13 May 1913 in Zurich, Switzerland of German parents, at least according to the information from several ships' passenger lists. According to his 1978 obituary he was born in Liechtenstein and trained as an architect in Zurich. Another article reported he was an instructor at the Engelberg Ski School in Switzerland. He could speak German, French and Spanish, and I'm guessing he became proficient in English as well. He helped found the first ski school in Chile in the late 1930s and also supervised ski instruction at the Plymouth Swiss Ski School in Plymouth, New Hampshire about the same time.

At some point Wendy picked up a camera and during the 1950s his photos graced a number of record albums for the RCA Living Stereo series. He also shot photos for ads and magazine covers, and seems to have been based in Manhattan during this time.

Saddle photo - 1956 Argosy magazine

1959 Canadian Club ad from Life Magazine

Hilty got an "atta boy" in a 1957 Billboard for his portrait of Diahann Carroll. The magazine noted the "Lovely cover will surely attract attention and sales."
1957 - Diahann Carroll on RCA
 More examples of Hilty's work for RCA.

1951 - Brigadoon on RCA

1957 - Hawaiian Guitar on RCA

1958 Hi-Fi Christmas Party on RCA Camden

1959 The Ames Brothers on RCA
 And finally, the most recent example of Hilty's work I could find, a 1962 print ad for Mercedes Benz.
1962 ad for Mercedes Benz

In 1958 Hilty settled on St. Croix in the Virgin Islands where he became a successful real estate developer. His most notable developments had to do with the King's Alley Hotel and shopping arcade and the Caravelle Hotel and arcade in downtown Christiansted, and the Mount Royale residential area, where he and his wife built a stylish home on the ruins of an old rum factory. Hilty died  18 June 1978 in Christiansted after a long illness.

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