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William Herbert Mortensen

It’s William Herbert Mortensen 125th Birthday! “When William Herbert Mortensen was born on 27 January 1897, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States, his father, William Peter Mortensen, was 37 and his mother, Agnes Thomsen, was 36. He married Courtney Finch Crawford on 10 May 1924, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States. He lived in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States in 1930 and Laguna Beach Judicial Township, Orange, California, United States in 1940. He registered for military service in 1919. He died on 12 August 1965, in Scripps Clinic, San Diego, California, United States, at the age of 68, and was buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, Orange, California, United States.”

According to Arizona Archives Online for University of Arizona Libraries, “Mortensen moved to Laguna Beach in 1931 and opened a studio on the Pacific Coast Highway (then called South Coast Highway)—the first of four spaces that he rented over the next thirty years. His school, the Mortensen School of Photography, officially opened in 1931 and always occupied the same address as his studio.”

The Smithsonian stated, “He wrote a series of bestselling instructional books and a weekly photography column in the Los Angeles Times, and ran the Mortensen School of Photography in Laguna Beach, where some 3,000 students passed through the doors. The artist and photography scholar Larry Lytle, who has done extensive research on Mortensen, calls him ‘photography’s first superstar.'”

Louise Moulton Portrait, circa 1930 (2018.40.14). It was created by William Mortensen, glamour artist who resided in Laguna Beach. It has an artist signature in the bottom right corner with “William Mortensen” and a “WM” stamp in red ink.

Charlotte’s Wedding Portrait, 1932 (2017.05.318)

See more of his work at the Heritage Museum of Orange County, Santa Ana CA. They have mounted an ambitious installation of original works by William Mortensen in both the Maag Farmhouse and the historic Kellogg House. The exhibitions are curated by Annabella Pritchard, and exhibitions are designed by Jamie Hiber, Daniel Cooper, Jessica Bell, Alex Gonzalez and Eli Aguilar. William Mortensen’s final resting place is also in Santa Ana. Opens Saturday January 29th 2022.
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