Bruce McBroom is a photographer who shot some of the most iconic celebrity acts of the 1960s and 70s. He’s taken stills of the Beatles and the Doors, but his best known work is the photo of Farrah Fawcett in a red swimsuit. The photo will be the focus of tonight’s 20/20 episode, and as such, viewers may be curious to learn more about McBroom and his impressive career.
According to Annenberg Space, McBroom graduated from the Photography Department of the Los Angeles Trade Tech College, and worked as an apprentice to famed celebrity photographer Sid Avery. After his apprenticeship was up, McBroom took photos for the U.S. Army Signal Corps and worked as a freelance music photographer. During the 1960s, he took stills for some of the most celebrated names in rock; including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the aforementioned Beatles.
McBroom Started Out As a Freelance Photographer for Groups Like the Beatles & the Doors
McBroom also worked d for several major motion picture studios. Some of his most notable films include The Godfather Part II, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Hunt for Red October and Coming to America. That said, McBroom’s fame is largely defined by the 1976 photoshoot he had with TV star Farrah Fawcett.
“One day I got a call from some guy in the Midwest from a poster company. He said, ‘I’m doing this poster of Farrah Fawcett and Farrah said to hire you to shoot her’,” McBroom told Entertainment Weekly. “She was only about 29, and just gorgeous in anything. We took a lot of pictures. She’d go in, get something out of the closet and I’d find another background. I knew I didn’t have a picture that resonated with me even though she looked great.”
He Says That the Iconic Farrah Fawcett Photo Came About by Chance
McBroom went on to say that the famous photo of Fawcett came about by chance. “I was running out of ideas and I was getting desperate. We’d been there all day. I said, ‘You know how you look best. Is there anything else that you’ve got that we haven’t shot? The guy says he wants sexy’,” he recalled. “So [Farrah] said, ‘Lemme go look around.’ She comes to the door and she’s standing in the doorway in that red suit. And she said, ‘What do you think of this?’ I said, ‘Farrah, just get comfortable and do your thing.’ When she did the series of sitting-up poses, I said, ‘We’ve got it.’ And I heaved a big sigh of relief.”
As far as the photo is concerned, McBroom told EW that he never expected it to have such a lasting effect. “Neither Farrah or myself thought that this was a big deal. This was like, ‘Come on up, we’ll take some pictures, and we’ll send them to this guy’,” he admitted. “I give Farrah all the credit for knowing how she looked best… Farrah picked that image — and she was right on the money.”
McBroom, 80, continues to work sporadically as a still photographer on film and television. Some of his most recent credits include the Eddie Murphy comedies Imagine That and A Thousand Words in 2009 and 2012, respectively.