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TV Guide Magazine's 60th Anniversary: Record-breaking Photographer Gene Trindl

Aug 29, 2013 11:44 AM ET
by Elizabeth Wagmeister

With a repertoire including Merv Griffin, Steve McQueen, the Monkees and the Brady Bunch, Gene Trindl holds the record for shooting TV Guide Magazine covers — more than 200 of them! We went behind the lens with the late photographer’s grandson, Skylar Schofield, who calls Trindl’s impressive roster of cover images his “ultimate résumé.”

Steve McQueen, Wanted: Dead or Alive, May 30, 1959
“He never really watched too much television, because it was weird for him to see his subjects [as stars], even though that’s what he was trying to capture,” says Schofield of legendary Hollywood macho man Steve McQueen (posing on our cover for his hit Western Wanted: Dead or Alive). “He really respected people who were true craftsmen.”

Alfred Hitchcock, May 16, 1964
This haunting shot of the Master of Suspense, who was one of Trindl’s favorite subjects, came about by a chilling fluke. “Capturing the essence of Alfred Hitchcock with shadows and the use of negative space was done by accident,” reveals Schofield. “It was really quiet, and you could hear the sound of the bulbs when they crackled. One of the bulbs went out and ended up casting a shadow on his face. It was a mechanical failure.”

The stars of McHale’s Navy, July 17, 1965
The cast of the naval comedy was posed to emulate the scene from the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware. Why? “My grandpa was a really quirky guy. He liked making spoofs or parodies of things. It was comic relief to do it that way.”

June Lockhart and Guy Williams, Lost in Space, Nov. 6, 1965
“If you just look at this, it’s fun and doesn’t seem like it would be all that difficult [to shoot],” says Schofield. But don’t forget, this sky-high snapshot of June Lockhart and Guy Williams was taken in 1965 — long before digital cameras, iPhones and Instagram. “This is a big feat and an example of leading-edge technology.”

Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman, I Dream of Jeannie, Feb. 5, 1966
Trindl was renowned for his artistic vision, but he also had an eye for the ladies. “He always talked about Barbara [Eden],” says Schofield. “I don’t want to say my grandfather was a playboy, but he definitely had his adventures, and he mentioned her several times in his adventures.” As for the task at hand, the apothecary-jar prop actually belonged to Trindl and is now sitting in Schofield’s kitchen.

David Cassidy, The Partridge Family, July 15, 1972
Teen heartthrob David Cassidy appears to be rocking the mic for millions of fangirls, but this cover shot most likely came out of an exclusive TV Guide Magazine photo session. “He rarely shot live, so I doubt this was actually on stage,” says Schofield. “It was probably staged in his studio, like, ‘Be a rock star — hold this cord!’ “

Dennis Weaver, McCloud, June 30, 1973
Dennis Weaver nearly pops off the page in this head shot, gazing into readers’ eyes. “Several of his images have this raw look,” says Schofield, pointing out the actor’s crow’s feet. “I don’t know how he was able to get all of those natural facial expressions, but I’ve never seen any other photographer capture the rawness of his subjects.”

Bill Bixby, The Magician, December 1, 1973
This mesmerizing cover of The Magician‘s Bill Bixby is no trick — it’s pure technique. “For layers, he would photograph something, and then he would actually paint on it. That bubble is watercolor instead of an actual color image.”

To see all the covers, check out our gallery here.
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