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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
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]

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

In 1969, Scavullo painted 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."[3]

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 also 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 the cover and in-sleeve photos of Donna Summer for her Once Upon A Time and Live and More double albums. 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.[4]

Scavullo's work has also been used in the covers of Seventeen, Harper's Bazaar, and Rolling Stone. He also published several books, from 1976s Scavullo on Beauty to 2000s Scavullo Nudes.[5]


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] He died in New York on January 6, 2004, and was survived by his partner in life and art, Sean Byrnes.


  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. ^ Exhibit at Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas
  4. ^ Rapp, Linda (2004). "Scavullo, Francesco" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  5. ^ Nemy, Enid (2004-01-07). "Francesco Scavullo, Fashion Photographer, Dies at 82". The New York Times. 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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