PORTRAYING Laura

THE HIDDEN PAINTING

Azadia Newman is a name that may ring a bell for only a handful of cinephiles.  She is the unlucky creator of a portrait that would have ensured her fame throughout the world: the original portrait of Laura Hunt, which was rejected by Preminger.

“Newman, born in Washington, DC on Jan. 16, 1902,  studied at the CGA, ASL in NYC, PAFA, and Critcher School of Painting & Commercial Art. In 1936 she settled in Los Angeles where she painted many portraits of movie stars Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, and others. She died there on Feb. 19, 1999.”

AZADIA CRAWFORD SEPIA

Azadia Newman next to her painting of Joan Crawford for THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY (1937)

The most telling detail of that obit looks like an afterthought : “She is also was wife of theater-film director, Rouben Mamoulian.” It’s easy to guess why Preminger would decide to erase ALL traces of Mamoulian’s work on “Laura” ; that particular rejection may very well have been the most humiliating affront to the original, unlucky director (not yet married to the artist.)  Continue reading

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