Military Connection: LA Vet Home Gets Iconic Gifts: By Debbie Gregory

Phil SternThe residents of the Veterans Home of California, West Los Angeles are getting an amazing gift from one of their own. Phil Stern, WWII Veteran, Award winning photojournalist, and capturer of iconic images, has donated 95 of his photographs to the facility.

Stern was already a working photographer in New York City when the United States entered WWII. Stern enlisted in the Army as a combat correspondent. Stern volunteered for the 1st Ranger Battalion, becoming one of the heralded “Darby’s Rangers.”

Staff Sgt. Stern performed his service to the country by capturing the images of American soldiers during their moments of peril, fortitude and triumph. As a Ranger in North Africa, Stern’s images from the middle of the fierce fighting earned him a reputation for bravery, even among soldiers and other combat correspondents. Staff Sgt. Stern became a “Purple Heart Cameraman” when he was wounded in North Africa. Being a Ranger, Stern attempted to rejoin his unit, but the Army discharged him because of his injuries. Stern worked for Stars and Stripes for the remainder of WWII.

After the war, Stern relocated to Southern California and began working as a photographer for magazines such as Look, Life and Colliers. Stern also worked as a cameraman for feature films in Hollywood. His winning personality, talent as photographer, and Ranger spirit endeared him to Hollywood’s elite.

Stern took some of the most iconic photographs of the biggest stars of Hollywood during the golden age of film. Stern’s images of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and John Wayne are some of the most recognized photographs throughout the world.

Stern is now a resident of the Veterans Home of California– West Los Angeles. His gift, as well as the number of photographs, are in honor of the Veteran’s 95th birthday.

On Saturday, September 6, 2014 at the Veterans Home of California– West Los Angeles Stern’s photography will be unveiled at a birthday celebration. Special guest speakers, Director Brett Ratner and Gisele Schmidt from the Fahey/Klein Gallery, will help honor Stern’s remarkable career.

Also at the celebration, a trailer of “Phil Stern: Eyewitness,” a documentary of his life currently in production, will be on view along with two screenings of the 50-minute Italian documentary “Phil Stern: Sicily 1943, The War and The Soul” produced for the 70th anniversary of the Sicily Invasion in 2013.

Other guests expected to attend include several descendants of the elite fighting unit, Darby’s Rangers. All of the 95 donated photographs will be displayed throughout the Veterans Home during the celebration and will remain as part of a permanent gallery.

The event is being sponsored by Phil Stern, the Veterans Home of California, West Los Angeles and the West Los Angeles Veterans Home Support Foundation.

“This is an amazing gift to the residents of the Veterans Home of California – West Los Angeles from one of their own,” said Coby Petersen, Deputy Secretary, Veterans Homes of California.  “Phil Stern’s 60-year career provides an extraordinary look back at a distinctive time in American cultural history.  We are honored to have this magnificent collection grace our walls.”

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Military Connection: LA Vet Home Gets Iconic Gifts: By Debbie Gregory