I received Hurrell: The Kobal Collection today and promptly tore open the package to dig into it. The book includes a brief forward explaining the origin of the the Kobal Collection, which was created by Ivan Kobaly, an Austrian immigrant to the USA who began accumulating movie memorabilia as a child in the 1940s. By the 1960s, when the studio system was imploding, Mr. Kobal was one of the few who recognized the value of the documentation which the major studios were anxious to rid themselves. Mr. Kobal actually became friends with Mr. Hurrell in the late 60s and was able to 'hear about Hollywood's Golden Age of portraiture first hand'. If I have any complaint, it is that there is very little information that the book imparts from Mr. Hurrell's discussions with Mr. Kobal. Outside of a few anecdotes about those stars that were easier to photograph than others, there's no back-story behind any of the portraits. Another slight oddity: the book does not include a dust jacket, which I found a little strange for a $75 book.
As to the portraits, they are really amazing - it may be a cliché, but they really don't make stars like the ones captured in Mr. Hurrell's portraits anymore. The biggest surprise to me are the pictures of Ann Sheridan, who's sex symbol reputation I never fully understood until seeing Mr. Hurrell's treatment of her. Similarly, blond bombshell Jean Harlow, who comes across as less than sexy to the contemporary eye in her 1930's movies, looks amazing in these photos. In addition to all the major stars, there are few unknowns who also benefited from the Hurrell touch.
Below is a complete list of stars' portraits included in this book.
Anna May Wong
Dolores Del Rio
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Edward G. Robinson
Erich von Stroheim