Francesco Scavullo

Francesco Scavullo (January 16, 1921 – January 6, 2004) was an American fashion photographer best known for his work on the covers of Cosmopolitan and his celebrity portraits.

Francesco Scavullo
Francesco scavullo.jpg
Scavullo and his 1984 portrait of Sting
Born(1921-01-16)January 16, 1921
DiedJanuary 6, 2004(2004-01-06) (aged 82)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Known forFashion photography


Scavullo was born in Staten Island, New York City. Early on, he used his father's camera to photograph his sisters who would model for him, and began working for a studio that produced fashion catalogs. He soon moved to Vogue. Scavullo spent three years as Horst P. Horst's assistant, studying Horst's techniques.[1] In 1948, he created a cover for Seventeen that won him a contract with the magazine. Scavullo soon opened his own studio in Manhattan,[2] and was married to model Carol McCallson during 1952–1955.[3]

Good Housekeeping cover from July 1967. Cover photo of Alana Collins (later Alana Stewart) by Scavullo.

In 1969, Scavullo photographed singer Janis Joplin with a cigarette in her hand, a picture exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The museum poster refers to Joplin, who died in 1970, as having a "free-spirited fervor of the counterculture revolution."[4]

Some of Scavullo's more controversial work included a Cosmospolitan centerfold of a nude Burt Reynolds, and photographs of a young Brooke Shields that some considered overly sexual. He also befriended a young teenager from Philadelphia, future supermodel Gia Carangi, whose career he was largely responsible for launching.[citation needed] Later, when Carangi's heroin addiction made it impossible for her to find work, Scavullo continued to employ her and support her until her eventual death from complications relating to AIDS.[2] Scavullo himself was diagnosed as manic-depressive.[3]

Scavullo created shots for various movie posters, album covers and Broadway shows, including one for A Star is Born (featuring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson), Judy Collins' Hard Times for Lovers, a portrait of Julie Andrews for Blake Edwards' Victor Victoria,[2] and photos of Donna Summer for her Once Upon A Time and Live and More double albums and later for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. In 1981, Scavullo was commissioned by Mikhail Baryshnikov to photograph the dancers of the American Ballet Theatre, which formed the basis of an exhibition that was later shown in a nationwide tour.[5]

Scavullo photographed Duran Duran in the 1980s, with his work featuring on various releases including the cover of "The Wild Boys" single. He appeared in the band's tour documentary Sing Blue Silver.[citation needed]

Scavullo's work has been used on the covers of Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Interview, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone. He published several books, from Scavullo on Beauty (1976) to Scavullo Nudes (2000).[3]


Scavullo died of heart failure at the age of 82, while on his way to a photo shoot with a then up-and-coming CNN news anchor, Anderson Cooper.[6] Scavullo died in New York on January 6, 2004, and was survived by his partner in life and art, Sean Byrnes.


  • Scavullo on Beauty. Edited by Sean Byrnes. New York: Random House, 1976. ISBN 9780394407289
  • Scavullo on Men. With Sean Byrnes and Bob Colacello. New York: Random House, 1977. ISBN 9780394419343
  • Scavullo Women. With Sean Byrnes. New York: Harper and Row, 1982. ISBN 9780060148386
  • Scavullo: Francesco Scavullo Photographs 1948–1984. Edited by Sean Byrnes. New York: Harper and Row, 1984. ISBN 9780060152307
  • Scavullo: Photographs 50 Years. Introduction by Enid Nemy. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997. ISBN 9780810941809
  • Scavullo Nudes. Introduction by David Leddick. Edited by Ruth A. Peltason and Judith Hudson. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000. ISBN 9780810941953


  1. ^ Gray, Madison J. (2004-01-07). "Francesco Scavullo, 82; defined 'Cosmo Girl'". Associated Press. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  2. ^ a b c Williams, Val (2004-01-13). "Francesco Scavullo". The Independent. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  3. ^ a b c Nemy, Enid (2004-01-07). "Francesco Scavullo, Fashion Photographer, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  4. ^ Exhibit at Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas
  5. ^ Rapp, Linda (2004). "Scavullo, Francesco" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  6. ^ Vary, Adam B. (2004-02-17). "A beautiful eye: remembering superstar photographer Francesco Scavullo, who helped to define an era". The Advocate. Retrieved 2019-06-10.

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