Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Supreme Hollywood Photography of Elmer Fryer

Elmer Fryer is another Hollywood great who cannot be missed when mentioning the glamour photography of yesteryear.

Fryer was born January 21, 1898 in Springfield, Missouri.  He began working as a photographer in 1924.  When Warner Brothers and First National Studios joined operations in 1929, Fryer replaced Fred Archer as head of the new Warner-First National Stills Department.  During the 1930s he took portraits of Dolores Del Rio, Kay Francis, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, George Brent among other Warner Brothers stars.  Fryer left Warner Brothers in 1941, shortly before his death at age 46 on March 3, 1944.

Fryer is known for his detailed and complex eye for posing his subjects.  He had a wonderful sense of modernist style and fashion.  He made use of the art deco period's elegant shading and shadowing in black and white photography.

Joan Blondell

Alice White

Polly Walters

Bette Davis

Thelma Todd

Lili Damita

Myrna Loy

Marion Davies

Louise Brooks

Loretta Young

Mary Astor

Dolores Del Rio

Constance Bennett

Bebe Daniels

Here is one of Marion Davies that shows many details of the art deco period.

Olivia De Havilland

Here are some photographs of Fryer with his subjects:

With Bette Davis, who he photographed often.

With Jane Wyman

Here is an example of Fryer's embossed stamp:

This is the back of the photo of Davis and Fryer together listed and shown above.

An official back ink stamp.


  1. Great photographer. I have a still from a scene not included in the final release of 'The Seahawk' with Errol Flynn and Allan Hale. It has The Elmer fryer stamp on the back.

  2. Very energetic post, I loved that a lot. Will there be a part 2?
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  3. I would love to connect. My husband, Roger Nichols (1844 - 2011) was Elmer's grandson. The family has personal letters, western union grams and more. I would love for our daughters to connect with your. conradreeder at gmail dot com