This month, New York’s Fotografiska museum opens “Stars,” an exhibition of Terry O’Neill’s photographic love affair with fame. The child of Irish immigrants, O’Neill began his career in the photography unit of London’s Heathrow airport, where Laurence Olivier was among his first subjects. Over the following 50 years (the 110 works included in the retrospective span from 1963 to 2013), he would shoot countless other idols of song, sport, and screen—the Beatles, Audrey Hepburn, David Bowie, Twiggy, Muhammad Ali, and David Beckham among them.
“We forget how important glamor and celebrity became during the 1960s and ’70s,” says Yoram Roth, Fotografiska’s executive chairman. “Terry defined that visual language.”
O’Neill, who died of cancer in 2019, was a star himself, prone to bravado and self-invention. Robin Morgan, his longtime friend and the president of O’Neill’s estate, adds that the photographer “could walk into a room and light it up, no matter who was there: royalty, rock stars, movie stars. He was so charismatic.”
Perhaps the most iconic photograph in “Stars” is The Morning After (1977), a portrait of Faye Dunaway following her Oscar win for Network. Clad in a silk dressing gown, she lounges by the pool in a deserted Beverly Hills Hotel, newspapers littering the ground below her and the golden trophy glittering by her side. Despite going to bed at 3 a.m., Dunaway agreed to show up at 6 a.m. to take the picture. Endlessly referenced and recreated over subsequent decades, it captures the fantasy—and disillusion—of Hollywood triumph.