Screen icon Audrey Hepburn caught on film by Sussex photographer like you’ve never seen her before

IT TOOK only five minutes for Rottingdean-born photographer George Douglas to fall in love with future screen icon Audrey Hepburn.

The Picture Post photographer had been invited into the star’s Broadway dressing room in 1952 for a quick photoshoot ahead of her career-making appearance in the title role of Gigi.

In his as-yet-unpublished memoirs Shooting Stars, Douglas – who owned a house in Brighton’s Sillwood Road from 1964 until his death in December 2010 – confessed that after that short meeting he had fallen in love with her.

“She was so nice and friendly. I walked home after the show feeling I had a friend at last in this lonely place.”

His shots of Hepburn in her dressing room, taken two days later on a tour of Manhattan, feature in a new exhibition An Afternoon With Audrey Hepburn, at the Lucy Bell Gallery, in Norman Road, St Leonards, which opened today and continues until Friday, August 14.

They are also part of a new National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Audrey Hepburn: Portraits Of An Icon, which runs until October, and a Fringe show at the French Les Rencontres De La Photographie in Arles.

The previously unpublished photos only came to light after the death of Douglas and his wife Jill ten months later. They form part of an archive stretching from the late 1940s to early 1970s.

There may be much more to come as the inheritors of Douglas’s extensive store of negatives, photographer Roger Bamber and journalist Shan Lancaster, are only a quarter of the way through finding out what the archive contains.

Last year visitors to the Artists Open Houses Festival had a glimpse as the doors of Douglas’s former home were opened, with images of Tony Hancock at London Zoo, The Goons larking about and 1950s movie stars letting their hair down on the ski slopes on display.

In The Guide today Lancaster talks about her former neighbour’s life as a roving photographer, and some of the discoveries the pair have made over the last three years, ranging from shots of TV stars and film icons, to images of daily life in the post-war period.

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