This photo is courtesy of the Donald Gordon Collection, which, through a circuitous route, Joe inherited. This amazing never-before-seen collection comprises the kind informal photos often taken at parties, outings and family events of one kind or another.

But these were not the usual shots of forgotten relatives at their leisure. No. The subjects in these snapshots were some of the most recognizable classic movie faces. And in most shots there is also Donald Gordon, who being the genial soul he was, became friends with his subjects.

Donald was a young actor who found himself under contract at Columbia Pictures during World War II. The amazing informality – almost intimacy – of Donald with his subjects is a pleasure to behold.  These were shots of some of Hollywood’s best-known personalities in mufti, so to speak, lounging around pools, front lawns, departing restaurants or in costume on the set.

The pictures evoke a smaller, more neighborly 1940’s Hollywood. Celebrityhood hadn’t quite become the national obsession it is today. There were no paparazzi as such, and access to the highest-level stars was made possible simply by being a member of a studio family, as Donald was. His snapshots reveal a sunnier, more relaxed, more human Hollywood.  It’s not too grandiose to suggest that they capture precious moments in time.

Donald’s on the right. Who’s on the left?

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