Fred Kovert

Posted on October 7, 2010

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Freddie Shields

Fredrick Kovert, a.k.a. Fred Kovert, Frederick Ko Vert, Frederick de Kovert, Fred de Kovert and Kovert of Hollywood, was a minor silent screen actor known for his drag roles. His first role was in the 1920 movie An Adventuress, starring Julian Eltinge, the most famous drag artist of his day, and featured Rudolph Valentino in a minor role; when Valentino became a huge star several years later, the movie was recut into a nonsensical feature called The Isle of Love (no Kovert in the Youtube clips at the queercult Youtube channel, but you can see Eltinge in full drag in reels 2-4!). Kovert had small parts in several features and shorts, the strangest undoubtedly was the part of the Phantom of the Basket (!) in the 1925 silent Wizard of Oz, for which he also designed the costumes (the plot of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the book – you can see parts here on Youtube, but alas not with Kovert). By 1931, Kovert had made his last movie, a short called The College Vamp.

It wasn’t until 1944 that he resurfaced in a new career for which he is more known: photographer. His studio, Kovert of Hollywood, was in a storefront on Melrose Ave. in what is now West Hollywood, and on the walls were photos of his specialty, male “physique” photos. But unlike many other photographers of the day, his men were often posed a little less heroically and with body hair intact, and being a bodybuilder wasn’t essential. More important, his men were completely, full-frontally naked. Which caused problems for Kovert, whose studio was raided by the police. It’s not clear that Kovert took the photos himself – Konstantine who ran another “physique” photo studio, Spartan of Hollywood, was supposedly one of his photographers.

In 1947, Kovert killed himself.

Frederick Kovert has a page on IMDB, here. A book of his photos, Hollywood Nudes: The Physique Photos of Fred Kovert is available via Amazon, here.

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