Shortly after the Hollywood photographer Sam Shaw died in 1999, his three children Larry, Edie and Meta founded the Shaw Family Archives in New York. It is full of thousands of his images dating back to the 1940s and including some never before seen shots of Audrey Hepburn. The family – including granddaughter, Melissa, who now runs the archive – has decided to release a clutch of Hepburn photographs in celebration of what would have been her 80th birthday, on 4 May. They will be exhibited at London's Proud Central, along with some of Shaw's much-loved Marilyn Monroe shots.
The Hepburn photographs include one of Shaw himself snapping Hepburn on the streets of Paris, taken by a friend. "My father always liked to document himself when he was on a film set or an assignment," says Edie Shaw, researcher at the archive. Eldest daughter, Meta Shaw, PR for the archive, recalls meeting Hepburn on an episode of the TV show, Producers' Showcase, in 1957. "I was 18 years old and my father was mad at me because I was tweezing my eyebrows. He said look at Audrey Hepburn's," says Meta. "I also met Marilyn Monroe as a teenager. My father used to take us on family outings with her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
Shaw is best-known for the iconic Monroe portrait of the actress standing on a subway grate, skirts billowing, for The Seven Year Itch in 1955. He first met Monroe when she became his driver, as a favour to the film director, Elia Kazan, while Shaw was taking photographs on set for Viva Zapata!. He later moved into producing films with Paul Newman and John Cassavettes.
Shaw snapped Hepburn over a four-year period. Most of these newly released photos were taken in Paris in 1957, while she was filming Love in the Afternoon with Gary Cooper. Shaw had a gift for capturing the spirit of his female subjects. In one, Hepburn stands in a Paris doorway looking like a school governess while another charming shot shows her leaning against a tree in the Bois de Boulogne.
Audrey & Marilyn at Proud Central, London WC2 from 30 April-26 July. www.proud.co.uk