Conrad Hilton Jr.
Conrad Hilton Jr.
Signed Photo with Husband Conrad Hilton - 1950
Extremely scarce photo signed by both Elizabeth Taylor (age 18 here) and her first husband Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr (heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune), along with an unknown third person (“Howard”) shown here enjoying champagne at Manhattan’s famed nightclub, the El Morocco (also known as the Elmo), famous for its blue zebra-stripe motif. Taylor and Hilton were married in May 1950, just four months before this photo was taken. Three months later Taylor would file for divorce from Hilton. Inscribed “To Willard / ‘I am’ Chipmunk Elizabeth / Me Too / Nick / + Howard / Sept. 5/50.” Glossy 8″ x 10″ lab print signed by all three on September 5, 1950. Signed photos of Taylor with her first husband are very hard to find. In fine condition.
Though the photographer isn’t identified, this image was most likely taken by Jerome Zerbe, the official photographer for both the swank El Morocco and the world-famous Rainbow Room. Zerbe is considered the pioneer of celebrity paparazzi, known for shooting the famous at play and on-the-town—though he never had to ambush his subjects: they gladly invited him to their high-society events. According to the 1951 cocktail recipe book Bottoms Up, Zerbe is also credited with inventing the vodka martini.
As for the “chipmunk” reference in the inscription: In 1946, Elizabeth Taylor—then fourteen and a major star at MGM—published a book about her pet chipmunk, Nibbles. She and Nibbles were virtually inseparable during the shooting of National Velvet and other films; in fact the chipmunk almost got to appear in Taylor’s 1946 film Courage of Lassie—but he was so well behaved that he didn’t look real, and his scene was cut.
Elizabeth “Liz” Taylor, DBE (Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) (1932-2011) was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. As one of the world’s most famous film stars, Taylor was recognized for her acting ability and for her glamorous lifestyle, beauty and distinctive violet eyes.