Hollywood Photographer was Famous for His Documentary Style
Bob Willoughby died of cancer in his home in Vence, France on Friday, December 18, 2009.
Willoughby photographed Iowa-born actress Jean Seberg in her first film Saint Joan, Bonjour Tristesse, and the beginning of Paint Your Wagon.
Seberg biographer and Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg producer Garry McGee remembered a conversation with Willoughby:
"I spoke to him for the first time on the telephone when I was in Paris at Sygma, the photo agency where I had a contact. I spoke in (terrible) French to him, and he replied in English. I said, "Thank goodness you speak English." He was kind and said he understood what I was saying and that I spoke it better than he--which I doubt since he lived in the south of France for years.
He shared many recollections of Jean which I included in my book Jean Seberg - Breathless. Countless of his photos were published through the years, as well as photo books. I know he tried for many years to realize a book of pictures he took during Saint Joan, but no publisher was interested. We both shared our frustrations over our works and the lack of support from the publishing community."
In a June 2009 email exchange with Fourth Wall Films, Willoughby shared some thoughts about Jean and the Saint Joan book he hoped to see published:
"The book I have of Jean from her first day in New York, her screen test and on, is the best photo journalistic coverage I think I have ever done on one subject. I do wish one day before I go, to see it in print...but there you are.
I would wish every bit of public appreciation for that girl, full of more grit than anyone I have ever known. She was special. She was a dear friend, and I wish to protect her in every way. Every good wish on your project.
Best regards, Bob Willoughby"