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June 12, 2013

Woody Allen and Tamara, 57th Street Bridge, New York, 1971. Photographed by Bruce Laurance

Staley Wise Gallery: Woody Allen and Tamara, 57th Street Bridge, New York, 1971, uncropped version. Photographed by Bruce Laurance (photo URL). Used with permission from Bruce Laurance. First spotted via the wandrlustr.

This photo by Bruce Laurance was part of the exhibition Good Humor held at the Staley Wise Gallery in New York between June 11 and August 20, 2010. When the photo was taken in 1971, Woody Allen (5’5″) was 35 years old and had just released Bananas, his third film after What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) and Take the Money and Run (1969). Tamara Dobson (6’2″) was 24 and had just began a modeling career a few years earlier. The following year, in 1972, she would start a new career in the movie industry and would quickly become known for her main role as a kung-fu agent in the Blaxploitation films Cleopatra Jones (1973, IMDb) and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975, IMDb).

There really wasn’t much information about the photo available online so I reached out to Bruce Laurance to learn more. He very generously accepted to share his memories about the shooting.

Bruce Laurance shot the photo for Harper’s Bazaar fashion magazine as part as a promotional assignment for Woody Allen’s upcoming film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (released in august of 1972). The photo took an entire page of the magazine. The exact publication date is unsure, but is believed to be November 1971 (I wasn’t able to track down this issue, online or physically). Bruce Laurance tells the rest of the shootout in his own words:

At that time, Woody Allen always seemed to be chasing after a girl. I thought it would be a good idea to use one in the photos.

I had worked with Tamara a couple of times previously and thought it would be hysterical to shoot her next to Woody Allen. I was sure something funny would happen.

When we showed up at the publicity agents apartment, they were totally surprised to see a 6’2” gorgeous black girl, as part of the photos.

I told them I planned to shoot the pictures in the street, Woody said “NO!”, he was concerned about crowds forming around us. I said I didn’t think we’d have a problem and he agreed to give it a try, but he was not a “happy camper”.

We shot in Central Park for about half an hour and nothing great was happening. I don’t think he was really into it. We had couple of almost funny pictures, but nothing like I was hoping for. As we were walking back to the apartment, Woody was having a chat with Tamara (she’s gorgeous!) and I was walking behind them. I had my camera ready and I called: “Woody!”. He turned around and gave me that look. I’m sure he knew what he was doing. That was it! The photo I was hoping for.

Who was it who said?…”I’d rather be lucky than good”

The photo, it seems to me, is even more funnier knowing the story behind it. The fansite TamaraDobson.com has another photo from the same shooting session where both Woody Allen and Tamara Dobson are facing the camera while walking in Central Park:

Another photo showing Woody Allen and Tamara Dobson as they face Bruce Laurance’s camera during a promotional photo assignment for Harper’s Bazaar, in New York, in 1971. Used with permission from Bruce Laurance.
Another photo showing Woody Allen and Tamara Dobson as they face Bruce Laurance’s camera during a promotional photo assignment for Harper’s Bazaar, in New York, in 1971. Used with permission from Bruce Laurance.

Anyone interested in Bruce Laurance’s work should take a look at his official website. One can see another fashion assignment he did for Harper’s Bazaar in 1970 ―titled “Little Rich Coats”― at Sighs and Whispers. The photo of Tamara and Woody is now owned by Staley Wise Gallery where one can inquiry for purchasing information.

• • •

Previously:

  • Woody Allen – Match Point (2005)
  • Woody Allen – Match Point (2005) [2]
  • “My Speech To the Graduates” by Woody Allen (1979)
  • Woody Allen: A Documentary (PBS, Nov. 2011)
  • “Life is meaningless”, Leo Tolstoy, 1884
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