Gary Lewis

( 1952 )

Gary Lewis was born Gary Louis Aloian in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952. He was struck by the bright lights of Tinseltown at a very early age. He visited Hollywood with his mother and her girlfriend, an avid starstruck scatterbrain who thought she could be the next Clara Bow or Marilyn Monroe. Around age 5, Gary's mother and her friend took him to The Garden Of Allah Hotel on the Sunset Strip, famed haunt of the most elusive film stars and owned by Alla Nazimova silent screen goddess. After touring the bungalows on the property, Gary got his first view of a nude woman at the pool and was then whisked away from the hotel and back to St. Louis. But Gary was now starstruck himself. Visiting Hollywood at 10, he marveled at Disneyland. A couple of years later at age 12 he met Natalie Wood on the Santa Monica Pier filming, Inside Daisy Clover, and became a lifelong friend of Natalie's.  An ecstatic Gary received photos that Natalie sent him when her first daughter, Natasha was born returning home from high school in St. Louis. Gary was now definitely celebrity crazy taking photos everytime he visited Los Angeles. Back in St. Louis, he attended St. Louis University High School (SLUH) but realizing he was 210 pounds and in his opinion TOO FAT for Hollywood, he went on a crash diet and within four months weighed in at 98 pounds. He could now fit in the designer clothes in the windows of expensive stores on Rodeo Drive, but little did he or anyone realize not only was he the first anorexic, before anyone knew the word, but actually was the first MALE anorexic not talked about even today except in movies with Matthew McConaughey or Christian Bale where they were required to lose extreme amounts of weight. Now feeling like he was a better fit for Hollywood, Gary played hookey from grade school going to Ann-Margret's 1967 opening at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas and Elvis's 1968 opening at the International Hotel also in Sin City. Lewis played hookey throughout grade school and high school always getting those notes from home that sickness was the cause of his truancy. Upon graduating from high school in St. Louis, Gary picked a Jesuit college, Loyola University in Westchester by LAX to attend so he could be closer to his celebrity subjects. After becoming friends with Nancy Anderson, west coast editor for Photoplay Magazine, during his jaunts to Hollywood, he was now getting assignments from Photoplay shooting home layouts of celebrities and his photos graced the covers and inside pages of the magazine. Gary had also become quite adept at spying on celebrities and delighted in taking long lens photos of stars such as Elvis & Priscilla Presley, Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, etc. without their knowledge becoming one of the very first known paparazzi. One star knew Lewis had incriminating photos and even sent hired goons to relinquish the photos. Gary didn't comply. Lewis whose photos appeared in Rolling Stone when it was just a newspaper, almost got John Lennon deported back to England after Lennon roughed him up outside the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood. Later Lewis became the ever present scathing rant of Starsky & Hutch's, David Soul in a TV Guide cover story. However on the flip side of the coin, Bruce Springsteen would sing Lewis's praises even called him his Paparazzi Pal. Rona Barrett, gossip queen in the 60's and 70's Hollywood, took notice of Lewis and used him to write juicy celebrity stories with photos to go along with the articles. During this time, Lewis became the personal photographer of Roger Davis who starred in the television series Dark Shadows, replaced Peter Duel in Alias Smith & Jones when Pete committed suicide on New Year's Eve, 1971, and was Jaclyn Smith's first husband when she was known only as the Breck Girl.Getting. Blindsided with trying to attend classes at Loyola University and always on call for a celebrity stakeout or shooting photos on the soundstages of L.A. or on remote locations, college came to an end after two years. Now Lewis could concentrate on what he loved the most, celebrities. Lewis between supplying gossip and photos to Rona Barrett for her Metromedia channel 11 television show and her fan magazines, working with Photoplay Magazine, and shooting on film sets had a lot on his plate. Gary later became Lindsay Wagner's photographer at Universal on Bionic Woman and her television special, Another Side Of Me in the mid-seventies to early 80's. In the mid-eighties the Hollywood of fan magzines took a backseat and Lewis became a lone wolf continuing to represent his own photos for sale but branching out into television shows. Lewis's photos can be seen in many E! Entertainment True Hollywood Stories and E! even did a spotlight segment highlighting Lewis and his photography and selling skills. Presently Lewis still shoots photos, reluctantly a lot of times since he no longer feels that star magnetism and charisma in the personalities he is forced to photograph. He is quite saddened by the turn the film business has taken. However, Gary Lewis relished his life today for the mere fact he has had the honor to meet and photograph so many truly great celebrities and even became friends with a few. Celebrities who had humility and kindness not only to their co-workers but also their fans. How refreshing those great celebrities had no plastic surgery, piercings, or tattoos. Lewis would be the first to tell you he's had a helluva life and he wouldn't trade it for anything.      

See all photos by Gary Lewis