October 3, 1929
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 26, 2013
New York City, New York, U.S.
Stern was the son of Jewish immigrants and grew up in Brooklyn. His father worked as a children’s portrait photographer. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, he gained a job in the mail room at Look magazine. He became art director at Flair magazine, where Stern learned how to develop film and make contact sheets, and started taking his own pictures. In 1951, Stern was drafted into the United States Army and was sent to Japan and assigned to the photographic department.
In the 1960s, his busy work schedule and heavy use of amphetamines led to the destruction of his marriage to Allegra Kent. He spent time in Spain recovering. By the late 1970s, Stern returned to the U.S. to photograph portraits and fashion.
After his death his survivors began a fight with his 'secret wife', an actress, Shannah Laumeister, who also directed a documentary film about him, called "Bert Stern Original Madman". The reviewer said her film was "An unappealing jumble of sex, regret and hero worship, “Bert Stern” is an odd tribute to brilliance muffled by lust. “Women are everything,” Mr. Stern tells us, wistfully. “Man is just a muscle.”
A lawsuit filed in 2014 by Stern's son Bret describes the film as "subterfuge and guise to gain intimate knowledge about his father's life, mental state, weakening mental capacity and thought processes, in order to manipulate Bert Stern and gain full control over his estate. In June 2013, after his father passed away, Bret Stern learned that Laumeister had induced Bert Stern into making a new will that left everything to her except a few small cash gifts to his children and a few other people."
Stern's first professional assignment was in 1955 for a Madison Avenue advertising agency for Smirnoff vodka. His best known work is arguably The Last Sitting, a collection of 2,500 photographs taken for Vogue of Marilyn Monroe over a three-day period, six weeks before her death. Stern's book The Last Sitting was published in 1982 and again in 2000.
He photographed Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Drew Barrymore and Lindsay Lohan (recreating The Last Sitting), among others, in addition to his work for advertising and travel publications.
Bert Stern with Aram Avakian, co-directed Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959), a documentary film record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. In 1999, the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
- "Bert Stern et ses muses". Vanity Fair (in French). 26 June 2014. ISSN 0733-8899.
- Vitello, Paul (26 June 2013). "Bert Stern, Elite Photographer Known for Images of Marilyn Monroe, Dies at 83". The New York Times. p. B17.
- "Bert Stern". The Telegraph. 27 June 2013.
- JEANNETTE, CATSOULIS (April 4, 2013). "A Photographer Is Uneasy in Front of the Camera". New York Times.
- Gardner, Eriq (October 31, 2014). "Celebrity Photographer's Family at War Over 'Bert Stern: Original Madman'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing". National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress. Retrieved 6 April 2016.