Feature: Top 20 Celebrity Photos of 2019, by Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com

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Star15. Actor, Author and Activist Amber Tamblyn

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Amber Tamblyn
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Amber Tamblyn is a Renaissance woman 2.0. And, when I say renaissance I mean she is likely to skillfully vanquish any oppressor with her flaming and fully illuminated sword of truth to their groin. Is it any wonder that she rose to fame playing a modern day Joan of Arc? Did she not help oversee the socially democratic equal distribution of a pair of traveling pants in service to her sisterhood? Was this not prophesied?

Actress, author, poet, director, and now feminist warrior, Tamblyn was one of the founders of the #TimesUp movement in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. She publicly called out actor James Woods in an open letter to Teen Vogue in 2017, and detailed how the 52-year-old actor had tried to seduce her and her fellow 16-year-old girlfriend … offering to whisk them away on a Vegas getaway while fully aware of their age. In her 2019 best-selling book “Era of Ignition,” she disclosed the sexual assault in her past and long history of harassment working as a young Hollywood actress. She also described her personal metamorphosis, which became a feminist call to arms to hopefully ignite a new era for both genders, creating a social and racial equality. Tamblyn – like her most famous character – seems to be fighting the good fight on a mission from God. I managed to capture her looking simply divine in this almost saintly looking portrait. It was taken in the green room before her sold-out book tour stop in Naperville, Ill., in March. Ignition sequence activated.

Star14. Comic Actor Rachel Dratch

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Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

“If THIS portrait made your Top 20 List it might be time to reconsider your parents advice about establishing an occupational back up plan!” Womp Womp!

Star13. Actor Richard Thomas

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Actor Richard Thomas
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

John-Boy Walton still isn’t sleeping and neither is the actor who portrayed him, the Emmy award-winning Richard Thomas. Now 68, the one time breakout star of “The Waltons” – a hit for CBS-TV in the 1970s – has been a continuously working actor of both stage and screen since the age of seven. Raised by parents who danced with the New York ballet, and later opened the New York School of Ballet, his earliest childhood memories revolved around his life backstage.

With over 120 acting credits to his name, Thomas rarely has time to say goodnight. Some of his recent work includes portraying FBI agent Frank Gaad on “The Americans, “ a reoccurring role on “Billions,” “The Blacklist,” five episodes of “Tell Me Your Secrets,” and “NCIs New Orleans,” in addition to his nearly constant theater work on the live stage. Sure it may seem that John-Boy evolved into a workaholic and insomniac, but Richard Thomas still managed to graciously give up a few minutes of his time for me at “The Hollywood Show” Chicago last March. The result was a portrait that according to my girlfriend was still, “Absolutely dreamy!”

Star12. Actor Tom Skerritt

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Iconic Character Actor Tom Skerritt
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Since 1962 Tom Skerritt has appeared in more than 40 films and over 200 television episodes, and there is no doubt he is a “Top Gun” character actor. He has appeared in such classic films as “M*A*S*H,” “Alien,” “Harold and Maude,” “ Steel Magnolias,” “Top Gun” and “A River Runs Through It.” Skerritt’s rugged good looks kicked off his early career on TV westerns, as well as portraying military men and astronauts. Those rugged good looks also cast him as the poster boy for Guess Jeans in the late 1980’s, and People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1993.

I caught up with the Emmy winning Best Lead actor (1993, for “Picket Fences”) before a sold out appearance and screening for the 40th anniversary of the film “Alien” at Chicago’s Music Box Theater. Before I turned the lens on him he asked if he could step out for a quick smoke first. I watched him out the window. There he was the iconic 86-year-old actor standing outside the theater café on the sidewalk, puffing away and saying hello to random passersby on Southport Avenue. He looked twenty years younger than his age, and still fully capable of bitch slapping any photographer foolish enough to interfere with a well-deserved smoke break. To reference the movie “Ted,” it took only a couple of shots with Skerritt beaming in my viewfinder before I felt just like Matt Walsh (who portrayed Mark Wahlberg’s boss). I too was ready to “Hang a garage door with Tom Skerritt, take his wife and kid miniature golfing, or even watch the Chicago Bulls with him in Chicago”.

Star11. George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn of WEST SIDE STORY

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George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn of WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn (A Poem)


Spielberg’s rehabbing “West Side”
And it’s causing quite a fuss
But I prefer an authentic O.G.
The perfection of George and Russ


Steven Spielberg wrapped filming on his remake of “West Side Story” on September 28th. The updated version is scheduled for a December of 2020 release. I’m not a big fan of remakes, and in the case of that iconic musical, why would you want to tinker with perfection? The 1961 movie won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Wise), Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno), Best Supporting Actor (Chakiris). And Russ Tamblyn – who portrayed Riff, the leader of the Jets (rival to the street gang the Sharks in the story) – already was an Oscar nominee for “Peyton Place” before he was cast.

Having previously photographed Moreno, Chakiris and Tamblyn, I found myself revisiting those classic gang leaders of the Sharks and Jets while the recast Moreno was off filming in Spielberg’s new production. In typical West Side Story fashion, one actor had optimistic hopes for the reboot, while the other agreed with me that it was a travesty and was downright pissed. What next, a remake of “Schindler’s List” featuring Cardi B and Lady Gaga? A near rumble was averted by my sharing photos of the shoot I did with Russ’s daughter Amber Tamblyn a few days earlier. And it got me thinking, in a world torn apart by loyalties to rival factions … whether Shark or Jet … if we set our differences aside for a moment to create something for our mutual benefit, then perhaps we could all just get along. What a wonderful picture that would be.

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