Lest you think that the insanely popular Palm Springs Modernism Week is solely about midcentury architecture, furniture, and fashion, Rancho Mirage’s very own celebrity photographer Michael Childers was on hand at Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain one evening during the popular, ten-day extravaganza. There he regaled the assembled crowd with tales of his more than three decades working behind the camera to create portraits of the rich and very famous.
Just a small sampling of the stars featured in the slide show that accompanied Childers’ talk included Bette Davis, Jack Nicholson, David Hockney, Brooke Shields, Catherine Deneuve, Rob Lowe, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rock Hudson, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Elton John, Cher, Angelica Huston, Richard Gere, Grace Jones, Sean Penn, Ellen Barkin, Isabella Rosselini, Mel Gibson, Bernadette Peters, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Natalie Wood, Dustin Hoffman, Ali MacGraw, Lauren Hutton, Lily Tomlin, Karen Black, Al Pacino, Ann-Margret, Shirley Maclaine, John Travolta, Paul Newman, Sissy Spacek, Demi Moore, Kathleen Turner, and Andy Warhol—who appointed Childers as one of the founding photographers of Interview magazine. By any accounts, Childers’ resume is one that even an A-list film director like Steven Spielberg would envy!
And speaking of film directors, Childers spoke at length about his 37-year personal relationship with British auteur John Schlesinger, the Oscar-winning director of “Midnight Cowboy” and many other classic motion pictures. The two men, who met and fell in love in London in the ’60s, lived there as well as in New York and Los Angeles before they retired to the Palm Springs Valley, where Schlesinger died in 2003 at the age of 77.
Both before and after the event, Childers—who in January was awarded the prestigious Crystal Lens Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hollywood Photography by the Palm Springs International Film Festival—signed copies of his most recent book, “Icons and Legends.” It’s most definitely divine!