Ormond Gigli became famous early on during the 1950s for his photographs of theatre, celebrities, dance, exotic people, and places. His work appeared prominently on covers & editorial pages of LIFE, Time, Paris Match, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and other major international publications. Gigli’s groundbreaking portraits include Sophia Loren (at age 21), Anita Ekberg, Marcel Duchamp, John F. Kennedy, Halston, Gina Lollobrigida, Diana Vreeland, Giancarlo Giannini, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Sir Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates, Richard Burton, & many more. Most of these images have not been widely seen since they first appeared over four decades ago.
Gigli worked more like a film director than a photojournalist. His ability to earn his subjects’ trust in his vision often during complicated, uncomfortable, even dangerous setups was as important to the photos as his technical finesse with the camera. His disarming way with his subjects is evident in the revealing anecdotes of the people and times he so vividly recalls. He was welcomed backstage on Broadway as readily as he was in the private lives of celebrities. Some of Gigli’s favorite photographs were self-assigned, international award-winners, such as “Girls in the Windows” photographed in 1960. Gigli imagined and executed a beautifully original photograph of the structure that was directly across the street from his apartment and was demolished the day after the photo was taken. His quick planning and execution resulted in one of the most striking images of the 1960s. During the 1970s and 1980s, Gigli turned to advertising photography, while continuing his editorial work. His assignments took him around the world many times.