Remembering the late Philip Stern, renowned photographer and World War II veteran

Philip Stern was best known for his iconic images of Hollywood celebrities, such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, and jazz greats, including Billie Holiday, Harry Belafonte and Duke Ellington.

The new book, “Snapdragon,” reveals a lesser known part of Stern’s life, providing first-hand accounts of his experience as a World War II combat photographer with the unit “Darby’s Rangers,” where he went by the nickname “66 snapdragon.”

Award-winning journalist Liesl Bradner wrote the book, incorporating original writings from Stern’s unfinished manuscript.

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A book-signing event with Bradner will take place July 1 at the California Veterans Home – West Los Angeles, where Stern once lived. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see some of his photographs, which grace the walls of the veterans home. In honor of his 95th birthday, Stern donated 95 prints to the home.

Stern’s photographs have appeared in LIFE, LOOK, Colliers, and other magazines. Vanity Fair editor David Friend once described him as the “Chronicler of Cool.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1919, Stern began his career as a photographer for “Friday” magazine, first in New York and then in Los Angeles. In 1942, he was assigned to a U.S. Army photographic unit in London, and shortly after, he volunteered to serve as a combat photographer for Darby’s Rangers.

In 2003, he was recognized with a Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Still for Motion Pictures. In 2014, he was inaugurated into the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame for his “service as an original member of the 1st Ranger Battalion and for his lasting contribution to the photographic history of the Rangers in the European Theater during WWII.”

Stern died in December 2014 at the age of 95. You can learn more about his life and work on the Phil Stern Archives website.

Event information

The Veterans Home of California West Los Angeles and the West Los Angeles Veterans Home Foundation will host a book signing with author Liesl Bradner for the new book, “Snapdragon: The World War II Exploits of Darby’s Ranger and Combat Photographer Phil Stern.”

The event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, July 1, at the veterans home, 11500 Nimitz Ave. Los Angeles.

An award-winning journalist, Bradner has contributed to national publications such as the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, the Guardian, Truthdig, Variety and WWII Magazine. In addition to Stern, with whom she forged a strong bond, Bradner has interviewed nearly 100 artists, actors, screenwriters, authors, politicians and photographers. Her work also includes: “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” and the Writers’ Room essay for Matthew Weiner’s “Mad Men.”


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