He photographed high schoolers’ demonstrations, which were some of the first major public actions of the Chicano movement.
In March of 1968, George Rodriguez was running the photo lab at Columbia Pictures. Every morning, like he had been doing for years, he drove from his parents’ home in South Los Angeles to the studio backlot in the heart of Hollywood. He processed publicity stills of Stefanie Powers and Susan Dey; negatives from the premieres of “Bye Bye Birdie,” “El Cid,” and “Flower Drum Song”; and candids of Frank Sinatra between takes on “The Devil at 4 O’Clock.” Over the years, some of the star-studded photographs were his own, shot on the same 35mm Pentax SP1000 he’d been using since graduating from high school to shutter away at big screen stars like Natalie Wood, Jayne Mansfield, and Lucille Ball, and rock and roll newcomers like The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, who had just begun lighting up the nearby Sunset Strip. Rodriguez was there for Omar Sharif and Peter O’Toole having drinks at the premiere after-party for “Lawrence of Arabia,” and he was there at The Chez on the night Tony Bennett and Judy Garland went to see Buddy Rich record a live album.
Them with Jim Morrison, Whisky a Go Go, Hollywood, 1966. Photo by George Rodriguez, used with permission.