Photo: Corbis Mary Ellen Mark, one of the world’s greatest documentarians, died in Manhattan on Monday. Mark became enchanted by photography as a student at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to travel the world gathering the trust of the people she met along the way and somehow finding the humanity in rather inhumane conditions, gravitating toward people who were generally regarded as outcasts. In addition to her photographs, Streetwise became a documentary that was directed by her husband and longtime creative collaborator Martin Bell. One look at her website and you’ll notice the encyclopedic cataloging of celebrity shoots ranging from President Bill Clinton to Christy Turlington.
The most memorable scene captures Miss Piggy’s first day working at the beauty counter at luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. After a troublesome lunch break, Piggy asks her co-worker, played by Joan Rivers, “Do you think I’m pretty?” Rivers then uses her signature over-the-top, offbeat sense of humor to show Piggy how a little rouge, lipstick, and defined eyebrows—“But pigs don’t have eyebrows!”—can lift your spirits. Rivers might have been heavy-handed with her application, but when I think about it, she was probably partly responsible for making me move to New York City and pursue a career in beauty. People today may know Joan Rivers as someone who made snarky comments about red carpet attire, but she was a pioneer in the world of comedy.