☛ Museum of Contemporary Photography: Dennis Hopper (actor), John Ford (director) and John Huston (director), 13 September 1971, Palm Springs, California, photographed by Victor Skrebneski, gelatin silver print, 14″ x 21 3/8″. © 2012 Victor Skrebneski.
I found some information about the context in which this photo was taken over at Ape Pagoda (a Tumblr blog). In the book Height of Fashion edited by Lisa Eisner and Roman Alonso (Greybull Press, 2000), Dennis Hopper explains:
John Houston (sic) and I were doing an ad for whisky with Victor Skrebneski. I asked Huston when was the last time he had seen John Ford. “I haven’t seen him in 20 years” he responded. So we decided to visit Mr. Ford in Palm Springs and take Victor with us. After talking for a while, I told Mr. Ford that I had gotten permission from his wife to get him into his wheelchair so we could take a photograph together. Mr. Ford replied, “Kid, you know what your problem is? You’ve got no sense of drama — because if you had a sense of drama you’d get in bed with me.”
The MoCP’s caption has this photo taken in Palm Spring. However, we know form Hopper’s testimony that the photo was taken in John Ford’s house. Yet, John Ford’s last place of residence was in Palm Desert (see John Ford by Peter Bogdanovich, University of California Press, 1978, pp. 109 and 113). There may be a small confusion here.
The ad Hopper is referring to is most likely a version of the “Generarion Gap” campaign for Jim Beam whisky. A version depicting the young Dennis Hooper alongside the veteran John Huston (both enjoying the same brand of whisky) ran in 1972 in various magazines and billboards. I found four different variations of the same ad using the two movie stars: The first one is a billboard version found at the Duke University Library, the second one from an eBay ad (URL may not be permanent), the third one on Flickr and a fourth one on page 35 of the July 1972 issue of Field & Stream.
Bellow is a higher resolution, cropped version of Victor Skrebneski photo (source):
Victor Skrebneski made his name in the fashion and advertising industry. Here’s how the Museum of Contemporary Photography presents him:
Born in 1929, Victor Skrebneski attended The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (1943) and the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago (1947-49). Perhaps most famous for his commercial work for the cosmetic company Estee Lauder, Skrebneski has also photographed for Town & Country and Fitness magazines, and for Chanel, Grosvenor Furs, Kohler, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and Saks Fifth Avenue, among many other clients. His photographs are exhibited and collected widely; a fifty-year retrospective of his work was organized by The Museum of Contemporary Photography in 1999.
More about Victor Skrebneski:
We’ve included a GALLERY of Skrebneski’s images with excerpts from an interview conducted by PDN, a brief BIOGRAPHY of his life, a PROFILE of the man and his remarkable career and VIDEO CLIPS of Skrebneski talking about his work.
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