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‘Faye Dunaway’, LosAngeles, 1976

their desks.’ ‘Did you sleep with Ava Gardner, Terry?’ ‘No, no.’ ‘Terry?’ ‘No comment, Adrian. Stop it.’

And there’s the famous picture of Faye Dunaway after her Oscar for Network, slumped elegantly in a dressing gown and high heels surrounded by newspapers, by the pool, with the Oscar on a table next to the tea tray. It’s a marvellous image of fragility in fame and the disappointment of achievement. She had been up all night and gone to bed at three. ‘I made her get up at six to take the shot.’ And like Victor Kiam, Terry liked the photograph so much, he married her. He also lived with Martha Stewart. (Not at the same time.)

‘What was that like?’ ‘I met her in San Lorenzo. I was dining with Eric Clapton, I think. I saw this beautiful woman and I went over and pretended to be Lorenzo — asked her what she wanted to eat. She was great. We’d just be sitting at her kitch-

the spectator | 18 September 2010 | en table chatting about nothing and then all of a sudden there’d be a three-course dinner in front of you. ‘Where did that come from?’ It was like magic. Martha kept soufflés up her sleeve.

In his current exhibition at The Little Black Gallery, the largest print is of Raquel Welch in her One Million Years BC authentic, ice-age bikini, crucified (just in time for the Pope’s visit). It’s an arresting image complete with double entendres and mixed metaphors. ‘I lost my nerve with that one,’ said Terry. ‘I took it for Esquire but never printed it. I thought it would be too controversial for America.’ But today it looks like a perfect illustration for half a dozen contemporary dilemmas and arguments.

‘I took a couple of Raquel in Chelsea kit, kicking a ball about. I introduced her to Peter Osgood. He gave her his shirt; actually, he gave her his full strip.’ ‘There’s a match made in celebrity heaven: Peter Osgood and Raquel Welch.’ ‘I should print them up. I expect I’d sell a few’.

One of the things that makes O’Neill such a memorable photographer is that his images tell stories. They remain contemporary and perceptive, and illuminate bigger truths. They are really simple static interviews with the famous. Much more often

Terry took pictures that were more than pretty or cunning records of the famous they are comments and observations on the nature of celebrity talent and insecurity and beauty.All the spotlit dilemmas of achievement and fame.

The last time Terry took my picture I was covering a Nelson Mandela visit to London. He was taking pictures of celebrities with the old man and he asked me to sit in the chair to check the lighting, like Sinatra’s double. He squinted at the Polaroid.‘How is it?’ I asked.‘I dunno . . . you couldn’t look a little more black, could you?’

Terry O’Neill: Guys & Dolls is at The Little Black Gallery, 13A Park Walk, SW10 until 30 October.


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