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

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Star10. Author Salman Rushdie

Author Salman Rushdie
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

When working with Salman Rushdie it’s probably not a great idea to introduce yourself with,“It’s such an honor, I’ve been dying to shoot you for years!” Luckily, the iconic “The Satanic Verses” author has a great sense of humor. He is a man who danger has courted, and hilariously appeared as himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to offer Larry David sage advice on the joys of Fatwa sex, and manning up with his f**k-it philosophy.

It was the 30th Anniversary of the 1989 Fatwa death sentence proclaimed on Salman Rushdie (for perceived blasphemy against the Islam religion in “The Satanic Verses”) by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini … the order was made permanent in 2006. Every February 14th,, Rushdie still receives a “Valentines Day” card from Tehran reminding him his death sentence still stands. To mark this anniversary as a wanted man, the novelist made it clear he wasn’t hiding. Quite to the contrary, he was selling out area venues such as Chicago’s Vic Theater and Naperville’s (Ill.) Wentz Hall (North Central College) to promote his latest bestselling novel, “Quichotte,” which is Don Quixote redone for the modern age. I was at his North Central College appearance, where I finally got to capture the wanted man in the green room. In true literary Rock Star fashion it was revealed that as part of his rider contract Rushdie ironically requests a shot glass be placed backstage in every city he visits. F**k it, indeed!

Star9. Legendary Bluesman Buddy Guy

The Legendary Buddy Guy
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Buddy Guy (A Poem)

Before Clapton was anointed God
Or Jimi kissed the sky
Before Beck, Page or Richards
There was Blues Man Buddy Guy

Pick your favorite classic guitar hero, and the one thing they will all agree on – in an almost fan boy reverence – is that their guitar idol is Buddy Guy. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn all have hailed him as the greatest living guitarist.

Back in 1958, Leonard Chess (founder of Chicago’s Chess Records) didn’t really know what to do with Buddy Guy, other that use him as a session man or team him up with other artists like Muddy Waters or Junior Wells. His live solo performances – according to Leonard – were just too loud and noisy. Guy pioneered playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his head years before Jimi Hendrix … who borrowed those tricks and stunned the world at Monterey Pop in 1967. That was the same year Buddy Guy was still working as a part-time tow truck driver on Chicago’s Southside. No wonder the Man had the blues!

By the mid 1980’s the musical world caught up to Buddy Guy, and finally recognized him as one of the original torchbearers, a “Guy” that had influenced an entire generation of 1960s and 70’s guitar players. His Blues guitar was the bridge to rock and hard rock playing, and begat the younger generation at the time. He has nine Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a Kennedy Center Honor, a National Medal of Arts and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now 83 years old, he is considered the last of the original Blues icons.

He still tours 100 plus days in a year, mentors young Blues players and still performs at his Chicago club “Buddy Guy’s Legends.” I photographed him at the premiere of “The Torch” (as in torchbearer) the documentary film based on his life, which closed the 55th Chicago International Film Festival. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also proclaimed it “Buddy Guy Day” in his adopted hometown. Trust me, there is nothing like capturing Buddy Guys radiant smile in your lens to chase the blues away.

Star8. Rocker Geddy Lee of RUSH

Rocker Geddy Lee
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

I got turned on to Rush by my fellow guitar-playing buddy Jim in the sixth grade. It was the opening track – “Bastille Day”– from the 1976 live album “All the Worlds a Stage” that was one of the first songs Jim ever taught me. Thus began my young-guitar-player’s love affair with the hard rocking trio from Canada’s great white north.

Geddy Lee had the most unique and instantly recognizable voice in the soundtrack of my youth. Was there ever a better 1970s album than Rush’s “2112” for laying around on beanbags with your eighth grade buddies, while hitting a bong and hilariously solving all the worlds problems?

By the time Rush was finally admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 (despite the clenched teeth of Rolling Stone Magazine founder Jann Wenner), the band had sold over 40 million albums. Twenty-four gold, 14 platinum and three multi-platinum … only rock groups The Beatles and the Rolling Stones surpassed their total record sales. In the 2009 film “I Love You Man,” the bromance between Paul Rudd and Jason Segel is cemented by their mutual obsession with Rush. They attend a concert and then hilariously attempted to play the songs in their dream to form a Rush tribute band.

When Geddy Lee came to Chicago to promote his “Big Beautiful Book of Bass” in July, it was a teenage dream as I became a “Working Man,” and he “… echoes with the sounds of salesman…of salesmen…of SALESMEN” posing in the limelight for my camera eye. XAN-A-DU!

Star7. TV Legends Shirley Jones, Dawn Wells and Loretta Swit

TV Royalty Dawn Wells, Shirley Jones and Loretta Swit
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

When Shirley Partridge, Hot Lips Houlihan and Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island are all laughing and posing together for my camera, while John-Boy Walton is somewhere behind me whooping it up, and cheering me on … it seems exactly like one of my weird chicken-pox-induced fever dreams from 1972. But in reality it was March of 2019, and I was working The Hollywood Show Chicago. The three still-stunning and legendary TV actresses are now all north of age 80, yet proving for all that it ain’t nothing but a number.

Shirley Jones, who is known to millions for her role as Shirley Partridge – the doting mom on the ABC-TV 1970’s smash hit “The Partridge Family” – was no novice when it came to providing the vocals for that show. Her singing voice was so affecting that she wowed Broadway musical legends Rogers and Hammerstein at her first audition … so much so that she was the only actress ever put under a personal contract with the iconic duo. She later appeared in their musicals “Oklahoma” and “Carousel.” Jones also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, in a dramatic role, for “Elmer Gantry” (1960). She would become the first female Oscar winner to also have a #1 Billboard Chart topper, vocalizing with The Partridge Family on “I Think I Love You” (1970).

Loretta Swit is a two-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy (1980 and ’82) for portraying Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on M*A*S*H from 1972 through 1983. Swit and Alan Alda were the only two actors to appear in the original pilot for the series, and the final episode. Over 106 million people viewed that final episode entitled “Goodbye, Farewell & Amen.” It was not only the most watched television series finale, but also holds the record for most watched American television broadcast (in amount of viewers) in history … topped only by the Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

Dawn Wells – while cast to portray Mary Ann Summers, the country girl next door on “Gilligan’s Island” – was actually a real life beauty queen. She was Miss Nevada in 1959, and she would compete in the 1960 Miss America Pageant. Afterward, she appeared in numerous TV and films roles before and after her stay on the island. And while “Gilligan’s Island” initially only ran three years on CBS-TV (1964-1967), the show has run continuously since then. It has never been out of rerun syndication in over 50 years. Dawn Wells embraces that good-natured character, and it is so beloved it has famously stood the test of time. There are far worse islands to be stranded on.

Star6. Actor/Director Jon Favreau

Actor and Director Jon Favreau
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

On screen superheroes are a dime a dozen. However, if there was a true titan or “Avenger” working behind the camera it would be Jon Favreau, and 2019 was a big year for him. Currently he is the creator and writer of the Disney+ live action Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” which has just been given a second season. He is the creative father of “Baby Yoda,” the Mandalorian character that is currently sweeping the Internet and will probably generate enough merchandise dollars to fill a Death Star. And since Favreau directed “The Jungle Book” in 2016, he most likely will direct “Jungle Book 2,” which has been announced for production in 2020.

Jon Favreau got his first exposure co-staring opposite Sean Astin in “Rudy” (1993). He then teamed up with his college buddy Vince Vaughn and created an indie film sensation, writing and co-starring in “Swingers” (1996). He soon began piling up both film and TV appearances, but his real superpower emerged in his writing, producing and directing skills. He famously directed “Elf,” “Cowboys and Aliens,” the first two films in Marvel Studios “Iron Man” series and both live-action versions of Walt Disney Studios “The Jungle Book” and “The Lion King.” He also executive produced “Iron Man 3,” and has appeared in and/or produced every “Avengers” film, as well as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

I photographed Disney’s greatest asset since Mickey Mouse in June of 2019, just before he received the Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award For Career Achievement, which was presented to him by his buddy and Iron Man work partner Robert Downey Jr. The celebration of Jon Favreau’s meteoric rise from indie film darling to the top of the Hollywood heap was enough to make Happy Hogan smile ear-to-ear for my camera. Cheeseburgers for everyone!

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