In the August 4, 1952 issue of Life, the magazine featured Eartha Kitt’s celebrated arrival on the scene. “She branched onto Broadway,” read the opening spread, which was illustrated with a Gordon Parks photo (one of several taken) of Kitt balletically swinging from a maple tree in Central Park. “The Girl who suddenly swung into prominence on Broadway this summer in a revue, New Faces,” the story continued to say, though adding, “it was the long way round to success.” Parks, the Kansas-born photographer who famously documented moments of 20th-century Black American life (both the glamour and the grievances), captured Kitt in rolled-up shorts, a fitted polo shirt, and pearls; she’s carefree, ebullient, and graceful. The joyous photo served as the inspiration for Annie Leibovitz, who photographed Jennifer Lopez’s first cover shoot for American Vogue. Wearing a Valentino Haute Couture dress, Lopez similarly swings from a tree; though she’s already a fixture of pop culture, the moment marked a new album and new marriage for the pop star and actor.
Jennifer Lopez, photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue, November 2022