Behold the haute cheese of photographer Mario Casilli, master of the soft-focus lens and king of the TV Guide cover. In the 1980s, Casilli shot the highest-profile TV and music stars in America, capturing the excess and glamour of the greed-is-good decade, the era of Dynasty and Dallas, shoulder pads, and big perms.
Stars including Dolly Parton, David Hasselhoff, Lionel Richie, Don Johnson, Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey, and Bea Arthur couldn’t get enough of the smooth-talker (he famously convinced Sally Field to pose for Playboy), who gave them that backlit halcyon 80s glow that these days we’d call camp.
Before cavorting with TV royalty, Casilli was a prolific Playboy photographer for 20 years, shooting numerous covers and no fewer than 57 Playmate centerfolds. It’s rumored he had the second key card to Playboy’s chain of clubs, the first being reserved for Hugh Hefner.
Mario Casilli died in 2002 at the age of 71, but his work lives on in a self-titled book (Reel Art Press), the first of its kind dedicated to Casilli’s photographic contributions to 80s pop portraiture. Says Joan Collins, who wrote the foreword, “I don’t think any photographer today has managed to capture a decade in the way that Mario captured the absolute glamour and decadence in his 1980s photographs.”
Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis of Moonlighting
Joan Van Ark of Knots Landing
Joan Collins, Linda Evans of Dynasty
David Hasselfoff, Rebecca Holden of Knight Rider
The Golden Girls
Larry Hagman, Linda Gray of Dallas
Mary Crosby of Dallas
Philip Michael Thomas, Don Johnson of Miami Vice