June Newton, photographer and muse, dies at 97
But later that year, the Newtons moved to Monte Carlo to avoid France’s high taxes. They spent their winters at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. In the mid-1990s, when hotelier André Balazs bought the then seedy chateau and redesigned it as a playground of old Hollywood and contemporary fashion, the Newtons were its main tenants, its “most illustrious guests.” Said Philip Pavel, the longtime manager there.
In an oft-told story Mrs Newton loved to hear, one day as she took a daily swim in the hotel pool, the palm trees surrounding her were pruned, exposing a nesting rat that fell on her back. (Mrs. Newton survived, but the rat did not.) The new hotel staff scrambled to be forgiven by hosting a big dinner party in honor of the couple.
“I was thinking of Monte Carlo, with chandeliers, silver and crystal,” Mr. Pavel said, “and prepared something that looked like a wedding banquet. June glanced at the long table and walked away. André said, “I think there was a mistake. What we are looking for is the chic proletariat. So we cut off the table and put some paper rags on it like an Italian restaurant with bowls of pasta and bottles of plonk. It was more their way.
He added, “There was something about June that was incredibly genuine, and she demanded authenticity from others. She could get people to sing on command. She said, “It’s time to sing for your suppah!” I saw her blackmail Rob Lowe and Joan Collins. When Helmut died, she blackmailed Anjelica Huston “Danny Boy”. She would often remind you, in her best Shakespearean acting voice, “To yourself be true”, pointing her finger at you.
Since her husband’s death in 2004, Ms Newton has been the guardian of her legacy as President of the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, who exhibits his work and that of others. His photographs have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and at the Newton Foundation.
Throughout their long marriage, the couple also trained their cameras on each other, in a continuous and very tender visual diary that captured personal moments – Mr. Newton in a hospital bed after a heart attack; Mrs. Newton dusting the shelves without clothes. They collected these and other images in the 1999 book “Us and Them”.