Susan Toepfer/Executive Editor
May 12, 1997 12:00 PM

PHOTOGRAPHER GEORGE LANGE HAS a reputation for working spontaneously. “My photo sessions are very fluid events,” says the 41-year-old Pittsburgh native. That was never more evident than when he shot the series of mother-and-daughter portraits beginning on page 174 of our eighth issue devoted to the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. Lange came up with the idea of having the celebrated women and their progeny pose while having tea. “Tea is a good, civilized act,” he says. “Mothers and daughters having tea is great.”

But some of the mothers got more than a hot beverage out of the situation: Ivana Trump Mazzucchelli invited her 70-year-old mother, Maria Zelnicek, to the photo shoot with daughter Ivanka so that Lange could immortalize all three generations in a photo for her private collection. Diana Ross brought along sons Ross, 9, and Evan, 8. After posing with daughters Rhonda, Tracee and Chudney, she had Lange take a more playful picture of all five kids wearing sunglasses in bed. “Diana is just as wonderful and exciting as you would ever want her to be,” Lange says.

While taking the photo of Julie Nixon Eisenhower and her daughters Jennie and Melanie, Lange learned that his affection for Ross was a sentiment shared by Eisenhower’s father, President Richard Nixon. Eisenhower told Lange that shortly before her father’s death, the two were driving on the Caribbean island of St. Martin when they saw Ross, dressed in a sarong, walking by the side of the road. “He pulled the car over to compliment her,” says Lange. “Julie said they corresponded for a while. He really loved her voice.”

Lange confesses that he was a bit amazed by the tale and by Eisenhower herself. “You picture her coming from this very straight, Republican family, and you don’t expect her to be so much fun,” says Lange. “But there are certain people who are just absolutely charming, and she is one of these.”

PEOPLE special issues photo editor Maddy Miller isn’t surprised that Lange was able to get Eisenhower to open up. “George really works well with people,” says Miller of the 1978 Rhode Island School of Design grad. “When he’s with a subject, he is very focused, no matter how many others are around.”

Lange’s involvement with this story left him impressed. “All the kids, despite having well-known mothers, seemed very independent and sure of themselves,” he says. “It felt like they were good, honest, loving relationships.” The proof is in the pictures.

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