Playboy Retro: Mario Casilli’s Early Work

By Playboy.com Staff

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<p>Photographer Mario Casilli changed the way we looked at beautiful women. See his early pics of Playmates from the 1950-60s. </p>


For almost 40 years, Mario Casilli was the eye behind some of Playboy’s most iconic photos. From 1957 to 1996 he shot 57 centerfolds, 20 pictorial features and 19 covers. Casilli started taking pictures at the tender age of 14, while he attended the Cleveland Institute of Art. From there he did a stint in the navy and when he was discharged he moved to Hollywood and worked under two photographers to the stars, Paul Hesse and Bernard of Hollywood. He started snapping for Playboy in the ‘50s, at first working in the pinup style of the day. His work was a hit, which lead to his decades long association with Playboy.

As time went on, Casilli developed a unique style: portraits that were enchanting and hazy, all shot in dreamlike soft focus, and his work was immensely influential, both in the pages of glamour magazines and throughout mainstream publications. By the 1980s Casilli was shooting the biggest stars of film, television and rock while still creating stunning images for Playboy. Today we’re looking back to the very beginning of Mario Casilli’s career and presenting some of his sensational early work.

Jacquelyn Prescott was the subject of Mario Casilli’s very first gatefold shoot. Miss Prescott was, at the time, working as an ad man’s secretary when she was spotted by a Playboy staff member… a staff member who was supposed to be selling ad space but instead ended up signing a new model for the magazine. She was crowned Miss September 1957 and now this strawberry blonde belongs to the ages.

Raven-haired knockout Susie Scott (not to be confused with the May 1983 Playmate of the same name) didn’t submit a biography or do a Q & A for her Playboy pictorial in February 1960, so we’re going to have to let her photographs speak for themselves. They say a picture is a worth a thousand words but every pic of Susie is worth that and so much more.

You will be dazzled by the contrast between the bright red lips, jet black hair and milky skin of Barbara Ann Lawford. Her dark Irish looks (and her 36D bosom) are eye-grabbing and every inch of her is captivating. Barbara Ann worked as a bunny in the Chicago Playboy Club before getting called up to the big leagues to star in the pages of Playboy as Miss February 1961.

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Mario Casilli changed the way we look at gorgeous women. Take in the gallery above to see where it all began.


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