George Zimbel

See "SHORT BIO" for actual biography Zimbel on Marilyn: On the night of Sept 11, 1954 I shot Marilyn Monroe. I wasn't the only one. There were over 20 still photographers, a Hollywood film crew, lots of cops and a crowd estimated at a thousand. We all gathered on a corner of Lexington Avenue in New York to see the great Marilyn and the self effacing Tom Ewell act a scene from the movie "The Seven Year Itch" directed by Billy Wilder. I was a 25 year old freelance photographer under contract to PIX Inc., one of the first photo agencies. At that period the magazine business was healthy, and the older photographers would sit in "the photographer's room" and wait for the magazines to call in the assignments. Or so us younger photographers thought. We younger ones were always hustling for a story. Marilyn was coming to town and he generously gave me his credentials. It was the situation I liked best. No assignment, complete freedom to shoot the event as I saw it... It was around midnight when Marilyn arrived on the set, dressed in the now famous white dress. You could feel the crowd surge. There were a few calls of "Hey Marilyn", but mostly people just looked, always shifting for a better view... Even the photographers were civil to each other. For those too young to remember the scene, here it is: "A beautiful blonde in a white dress walks along Lexington Avenue with her "summer bachelor" friend. They walk over a subway air vent as a train speeds by below. The updraft of warm air catches her dress like a parachute. It billows up and up. The guy is flustered, the blonde is surprised." (End of scene.)... I am more of a determined photographer than a pushy photographer but that night I did something atypical. I started to shoot as the filming commenced. (Strictly forbidden!)) There was enough street noise to cover the discrete click of the Leica shutter, but someone obviously didn't like what I was doing and I was removed from the press photography area and escorted behind the police lines by two of New York's finest. I used the new viewpoint and kept shooting from there... That photo session in New York was one of the most successful publicity stunts ever staged. The shoot was scheduled so that all publications would have time to meet their deadlines before the film opened in February 1955... To me these photographs are a document of the age of innocence, my own. George S. Zimbel continues to produce new work and print previously unseen images from his archive. His activity reflects his feeling that creative people speed up as they get older because they have a backlog of ideas and projects along with the realization that time is finite. George Zimbel has been married to Elaine Sernovitz, a writer and psychotherapist since 1955. They have four children: Matt, Andrew, Ike, and Jodi and nine grandchildren. They live in Montreal, their city of choice. In an era of increased manipulation of the photographic image by computer technology, Zimbel's commitment to the "straight" photograph has become stronger. He sees the early 21st century as a period in which classic photography will have it's last flowering. "My work begins with recording an image, but it is not finished until I have made a fine print. That is my photograph. A lot goes into a finished documentary photograph: a very personal view of life, a knowledge of technique, and of course, information. It is the information that grabs the viewer, but it is the photographer's art that holds them."
Read More