Thursday, Dec. 26, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
Bruno Bernard enjoyed two passions in life -- photographing beautiful women and working in Las Vegas. Now his daughter is sharing his loves with the world.
Susan Bernard, president of Bernard of Hollywood Publishing Renaissance Road Productions Inc., is exhibiting 10 black-and-white prints in her father's Las Vegas series at the MGM's new "The Art of Entertainment" gallery. Other 11-by-14-inch photographs will be exhibited from time to time.
Bernard photographed entertainers who worked and played around Las Vegas in the late 1950s and early '60s. Some of his Las Vegas photographs have never been shown in public.
"My father had access to celebrities because he had a studio inside the Riviera Hotel, and he was known for his glamour photography," Susan Bernard says from her Los Angeles headquarters. "He captured some of the greatest performers in Las Vegas who appeared on the Strip. Marlene Dietrich would let no one else except my father photograph her."
Bernard, who died in 1987, frequently did portraits in his Riviera Hotel studio and snapped candid shots of famous celebrities between shows in Las Vegas. Notables included Jayne Mansfield, Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Donald O'Conner and many more.
Known as Bernard of Hollywood, Bruno Bernard also operated studios on the Sunset Strip and in Palm Springs. He is credited with taking the first photographs of a young Norma Jeane, who eventually became Marilyn Monroe. The actress publicly credited Bernard with helping launch her career.
Many of Bernard's black-and-white prints have sold at auction for $500 and up, his daughter says. Signed photographs have sold for several thousand dollars.
"Nostalgia has become so important," Bernard says. "We are coming into the millennium, and much of the old Las Vegas is gone. I think my father loved Las Vegas because there was always activity going on there. There was never a moment that he wasn't involved in something."
Susan Bernard previously published several of her father's works in books that became best sellers. Her "Bernard of Hollywood's Marilyn" (St. Martin's Press, 1993) has been called the "quintessential pictorial essay on Monroe" and became a best seller.
Warner Books published three books on some of Bernard's most notable pinup models. The series of "Bernard of Holywood's Pin-Ups: Blondes!, Brunettes! and Redheads!" made the Rizzilo bookstore chain's best seller list. They also received wide acclaim in "Vanity Fair," "Entertainment Weekly" and "American Photo."
Bernard and the Corel Corp. recently released two Bernard of Hollywood CD-ROM games, one based on the Marilyn Monroe book and another on pinup photographs.
Another CD-ROM game is in the works on Las Vegas, featuring a fantasy tour of casinos and backstage visits with celebrities and showgirls.
The Art of Entertainment gallery is featuring works from artists including Leroy Neiman, Steve Kaufman, Rejean St. Jules, Hessam, Sabzi and Randy Souders.
Kaufman is a pop painter who worked with Andy Warhol. Sabzi has created human forms shaped and hued by Persian rugs his mother designed.
Souders' paintings feature elegant Victorian mansions and quaint American neighborhoods.