Marilyn Monroe tucks her legs up behind her LBD. An exuberant Audrey Hepburn kicks off her flat-tie sandals (below). Grace Kelly forgets about being ladylike and displays a lot of thigh. Even the normally glacial Duchess of Windsor shows a playful side, pearl choker and all.
Celebrated portrait photographer Philippe Halsman shot many of the 20th century's powerful, famous, brilliant, or beautiful for leading magazines, primarily Life. For a six-year period in the 1950s, Halsman would conclude his sessions by asking his sitters, who included everyone from Albert Einstein to Groucho Marx, to jump. "When you ask a person to jump," he wrote, "his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping, and the mask falls, so that the real person appears."
Now 200 of these "jump" portraits, which proved to be a huge influence on later fashion photography, have been collected in a reissue of Halsman's classic Jump Book ($45).
While images of naturally uninhibited subjects–like a young Brigitte Bardot leaping in a white bikini against a backdrop of the Riviera coastline or original boho chic icon Jean Seberg, shown jumping with her cat—have an unforced charm, the most subversive are those of less spontaneous figures like then Vice President Richard Nixon, photographed in the White House, trying to maintain his dignity while pointing his toes in mid-air.
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor: