1939. Here’s an object-lesson in how photography can transform an actress into an icon. The subject is Ann Sheridan. The lighting not only creates drama, throwing her into relief against a stark, black background, it also caresses and highlights the softness of her skin, the gloss of her satin gown and the contrasting facets of her jewel-encrusted bracelets.
Ann made her Hollywood movie debut using her real name, Clara Lou Sheridan, in 1934, aged 19. The following year, she changed her name to Ann but she had to wait until late 1938 to land her first starring role in an A-list picture, Angels with Dirty Faces. She went on to become one of the most glamorous women in Hollywood – hardly surprising with the aid of stills like this. Photo by George Hurrell.