This Friday at 4 pm Radio 4′s Last Word will be featuring Pamela Green. Last Word will be speaking to her friend Sylvia Sibbick, to the writer and critic Matthew Sweet and to yours truly. If you miss it, it will be available on iPlayer.
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Pamela Green first met George Harrison Marks in 1953. George was a theatrical photographer and they met in connection with Pamela’s role in Bernard Delfont’s Folies Bergere which was running at the Prince of Wales Theatre at the time.
It was Pamela who persuaded George to try his hand at nude photography. Between them, they created the famous glamour model, Rita Landre, who no-one guessed was actually Pamela in disguise. It was clear that George and Pamela were an excellent professional team. G Harrison Marks Limited was formed, George’s photographic expertise perfectly complemented by Pamela’s skilled costume and set design – a skill informed by her studies as a fine artist, at St Martin’s School of Art.
During the lean times of the early 50s, they struggled to make a living in their studio at No 4 Gerrard Street in London’s Soho. Their lives ping-ponged between feast and famine, but they had fun. Soho was their village. They knew everyone. They made their living by selling sets of postcards featuring nudes and semi-nudes to the bookshops in the area. The constraints in place due to the era’s censorship laws presented a challenge. However, the quality of the work and the beauty of the models represented meant that they sold enough to invest in the launch of their first monthly publication, the now famous Kamera.
Kamera was launched in 1957. It was a pocket-sized monthly publication. The models featured were hand-picked by George and Pamela, who had the uncanny knack of selecting just the right girls. Some of these girls – June Palmer, Paula Page, Lorraine Burnett, Vicky Kennedy, Marie Devereaux and Rosa Dolmai – were to become celebrities in their own right.
Within two days of the launch of the first issue of Kamera, the initial 15,000 print run was sold out. A re-run led to 150,000 copies being sold in five weeks.
George’s photographic mastery and Pamela’s creative skills led to Kamera changing the face of glamour photography. They seemed to have a natural ability to capture the spirit of the age and, to some extent, guide it. Kamera, though titillating, was imbued with dignity and beauty. Sales of the Kamera calendars were phenomenal. George’s fascination with theatre and cinema gave the photos a dramatic and live quality which set them apart from other contemporary glamour imagery.
George eventually fulfilled his dream of film production and Naked as Nature Intended, made by Kamera Cine was a smash hit which ran and ran in the West End. Another film under the Kamera Cine name was to be Come Play with Me, starring the legendary Mary Millington.
The Gerrard Street studio was to become the centre of the nude and glamour scene. In the early 1960s the staff had expanded to 15. This included a man employed to build the sets designed by Pamela. It is a deserved tribute to Pamela’s talent for set and costume design that Michael Powell copied her designs for a Parisian Street scene for his film, Peeping Tom in which, of course, Pamela was cast as the nude model, Milly.
In December 1967 Pamela dissolved her partnership with Harrison Marks. Copies of Kamera and its offshoots are highly collectable today. A special thanks is due to all the fans from those early days.