“What makes a fabulous face?” asks author Robert Dance. “It doesn’t have to be beauty. You had to have a strong face that was photographic, of course, and that audiences wanted to look at.”

In the new book Fabulous Faces of Classic Hollywood, Dance and coauthor Simon Crocker have put together more than 200 photographs of Hollywood’s Golden Age stars shot by leading portrait photographers.

“These are not images that would be known to a lot of people,” explains Crocker.

In the days when actors were under contract, they developed strong relationships with their studio’s photographers.

“They worked with them regularly,” says Crocker, who notes that familiarity helped the stars relax. “And the greater the face, the closer the camera can move in, and it doesn’t start getting unattractive, it gets more beautiful.”

Fabulous Faces of Classic Hollywood was released from ACC Art Books and includes 200 full-page portraits from the archives of the John Kobal Foundation.

Rare Hollywood Photos: Book Asks 'What Makes a Fabulous Face?'
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“We tried to find images that had not often been seen in the past 30 or 40 years,” says Dance.

In addition to Hollywood heavyweights like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the tome includes less familiar stars like Ramon Novarro and Lon Chaney.

“One was a tremendous beauty, and one was a great character actor,” says Dance. “And you can’t take your eyes off either of them.”