OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Photog Bobby Miller sharing showcase of iconic Studio 54 images for book's re-release

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-01-26T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Photog Bobby Miller sharing showcase of iconic Studio 54 images for book's re-releaseBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

I wrote a column last month about famed hotelier Ian Schrager and the former Ambassador East Hotel at 1301 North State Parkway in Chicago, and the latter's previous life as co-owner of New York's legendary Studio 54.

Of course, Schrager is the remaining surviving co-owner of what was once the oasis of the elite of late 1970s New York City.

From 1977 until 1981, Schrager and co-owner Steve Rubell, who died at age 45 in 1989, ran the most famous nightclub of the Big Apple until it closed after the partners faced legal woes for tax evasion. The establishment's name came from the space formerly serving as CBS' sound stage studio 54 for radio and television where the panel game shows "What's My Line?," "To Tell the Truth" and "I've Got A Secret" were taped and aired.

Schrager said during the decades, he had opted for "distance from the Studio 54 days."

But someone who doesn't mind talking about Studio 54 days is celebrity photographer Bobby Miller.

At its peak, "Studio 54," described in media accounts as "a cocktail mixture of everyday party revelers rubbing elbows with the famous names of the day," attracted a who's who that included celebrities like Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Christopher Reeve, Grace Jones and Jerry Hall to Phyllis Diller, Olivia Newton-John, Frankie Valli, Liza Minnelli and Caroline Kennedy. Even Hollywood luminaries like Ann Miller, Elizabeth Taylor, Yul Brynner and Gloria Swanson partied with First Lady Betty Ford and dance legends Martha Graham and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Photographer Miller captured the best moments in his book "Fabulous" (1998 St. Martin's Press, $24.95).

After my column published last month, Miller happened upon it while online and was nice enough to dash me an email, and then ring my desk at the newspaper with some very good news.

I told him I've enjoyed his hardcover book, which is a perfect conversation starter when included as a coffee table focal point, since it was first released when I purchased my copy hot off the presses.

Now, Miller, who is quietly retired, tells me the rights to his book have reverted back to him and he has just completed and published a new version of this great work which came out in November 2012.

"Fabulous! A Photographic Diary of Studio 54 REDUX" ($95) is a beautiful 170-page hardcover which is now available again after being out of print since 1998 and only available here: http://www.blurb.com/b/3774079-fabulous-a-photographic-diary-of-studio-54-redux-b

He tells me the new version of the book has 38 new color photos that have never been published before as well as an updated introduction from author Miller, as well as a new and revised foreword from writer Victor Bockris.

Miller told me the original version of the book, which was entirely in black and white, didn't include his treasured one-of-a-kind captured moments photographs as he had originally intended, since editors on the book project opted to cut and crop many of the photos, while often time, leaving odd large white spaces on pages as vacant space.

For example, one of Miller's photos of the late great singer and dancer Ann Miller, that I opted to showcase with last month's column was a visual victim of the random cropping he refers to in that earlier version of the book.

I've included the "uncropped" version of that same Ann Miller photo here, graciously provided by Miller, who added this explanation with fun details: "Just so you appreciate it, the guy holding a Hostess Cupcake behind Ann is Alan Carr the film producer of the movie 'Grease,' which was the party that night. And that is Olivia Newton-John with the blonde hair blocking him."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

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