Microsoft – Bliss

Behind the camera: Charles O’Rear
Where: Sonoma County, California
Photo Summary: A hillside next to the shoulder of Highway 121
Picture Taken: 1996

In 1996 photographer Charles O’Rear was driving on Highway 121 through the Napa and Sonoma counties to the city of Marin. Looking over at the beautiful green hill and perfect sky O’Rear made the decision to pull over and snap the scene. Much later Microsoft Windows XP was looking for a picture and selected this one, renaming it Bliss. They choose the picture to be the centerpiece for the Windows XP $200 million advertising campaign Yes you can.

Taking the photo



Charles O’Rear was driving to the city of Marin and was struck by the scene he saw laid out before his eyes along Highway 121. To get the perfect shot he got out of his car and poked his medium format camera through the wire fence. He chose the ISO and f-stop settings and pushed the shutter. He would later remark in an interview:

Photographers like to become famous for pictures they created, I didn’t ‘create’ this. I just happened to be there at the right moment and documented it. If you are Ansel Adams and you take a particular picture of Half Dome and want the light a certain way, you manipulate the light. He was famous for going into the dark room and burning and dodging. Well, this is none of that.
I sure would have liked to have sold them another photo, But I think this is one that will be recognized by more people on the planet than any other photograph. People may still remember it when I’m dead and gone. It will probably be mentioned in my obituary.

To have full ownership of the photo Microsoft paid a huge sum, “one of the largest amounts ever paid to a living, working photographer.”

Photographer


Same location taken in 2006 shows there are now vineyards on the hill


Charles O’Rear is a professional photographer who has travelled the world taking pictures for National Geographic. He got his first camera when he was 10 and in his hometown of Butler, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Democrat. Moving to the big city he shot pictures for the Kansas City Star before he moved and worked for the Los Angeles Times shooting celebrities. After seeing his pictures National Geographic decided to give him a job and sent him to Alaska. For the next few decades, he worked NG taking pictures all around the world. While travelling through Indonesia on a year-long assignment he used over 500 rolls of film or thousands of pictures. Of all those only 25 for use for the issue of the magazine. He is now based out of Napa Valley, California and has published nine books of wine photography, including his best-selling Napa Valley: The Land, The Wine, The People and his wife co-wrote the Wine Across America: A Photographic Road Trip in 2007

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Kissing Couple

Behind the camera: Robert Doisneau
Where: Streets of Paris outside the Hotel de Ville
Photo Summary: Françoise Bornet and then boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posing for a kiss
Picture Taken: 1950

Titled “Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville,” or “Kiss at City Hall.” Robert Doisneau’s (pronounced ro-bear dwa-no.) picture has itself come to symbolize spontaneous acts of love and cement that Paris is the city of romance. In late 2000 Paris Match magazine called on young couples to recreate the kiss in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the picture. Doisneau took the snapshot of lust, in 1950, as part of a series on young love in Paris, for LIFE magazine. Over the years millions of copies of the image were sold as posters. One of the women who showed up for the reenactment said she has never really understood why Paris is seen as more romantic than other European cities. “But we must continue to perpetuate the image”

Rebirth

He didn’t want to shatter their dream
Why Robert Doisneau didn’t admit using models

After the picture appeared in the LIFE magazine series it lay forgotten for 31 years until a publisher called Doisneau asking to make a poster of the “Kiss at City Hall” shot. The poster was a huge hit, and soon posters and postcards were sold all over the world. The image brought Doisneau fame but it also brought a lot of headaches too. Since the success of the poster, many couples have come forward claiming to be the couple in the picture. Doisneau was not threatened by the claims, as he knew he had used models to pose for the kiss. In a 1992 interview, Doisneau said: “I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.”

Still, he greeted the claims with gentleness. His daughter Annette Doisneau, who worked as an assistant for Robert, remembers meeting one of the couples with her father. Even though he knew that their claim was false, “He said nothing,” she said. “I asked him why he hadn’t told them the truth. He said he didn’t want to shatter their dream.” Not denying the claims would cost Robert dearly. In 1993 Denise and Jean-Louis Lavergne took him to court claiming that they were the couple in the picture and demanding compensation for taking the picture without their knowledge.

Models come forward

The photo was posed. But the kiss was real
Ms Bornet the women in the shot

The lawsuit forced Robert to admit that the shot wasn’t spontaneous, he had indeed used models for the picture. With this admission, the lawsuit was dismissed. However his legal trouble didn’t end as the model that he used, Françoise Bornet then came forward and sued for a portion of the poster sales. This case too was thrown out when Robert provided evidence that she had been paid for posing in 1950. Françoise Bornet and then-boyfriend Jacques Carteaud posed for the picture after Robert had seen them kissing earlier in a café. Mrs. Bornet a former actress, now in her 70’s has revealed that her and Jacques’ relationship only lasted around 9 months. Even though they are forever linked in the picture as one of the most romantic couples they didn’t stay in touch. “I now think of it as a picture that should never really have existed,” Ms. Bornet said. She added maybe with regret: “The photo was posed. But the kiss was real.”

In 2005 she sold the original print, which bears the photographer’s authentic signature and stamp, that Robert Doisneau had sent her a few days after taking the shot. At the Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur auction, an unidentified Swiss collector paid 155,000 euros, more than 10 times what it was expected to fetch. A surprised Mrs. Bornet told the French media that she would use the proceeds to set up a film production company with her husband.

Robert Doisneau


Robert Doisneau became one of Frances’s most prolific and popular photographers. He is known for his everyday shots of life in France’s cafés and streets. He once said that “The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” This is ironic considering that his most famous picture was staged. Critic’s have tried to marginalize his artistic reputation as a “cheerful chappie” who marched around happily taking pictures of whoever passed him by. However, this image has always annoyed those close to him. His daughter, Francine Doisneau, “Nothing could be further from the truth, … If you look closely at his work, you’ll see that the lightness, the carefree touch he strives for, aims to mask his own melancholy.” Doisneau’s own life was indeed anything but cheerful. Born in Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France 1912. He watched his father march off to World War I and then his mother died when he was seven. Raised by an aunt and then stepmother who never showed him the love that his mother did, he eventually trained as an engraver at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly. However, when he graduated he found that his training was out of date and useless. While working at a pharmaceutical firm he learned photography in the advertising department. He first started taking pictures as a hobbyist but soon he turned pro selling his first photo story to the Excelsior newspaper in 1932 at the age of 20.

When World War II came around, he was first a member of the French Army and then the Resistance using his skills as an engraver to forge passports and identification papers. After the war, he did some freelance work for a number of international magazines including Life, and Vogue. Through Vogue, he became well known in the high-society fashion circles but Robert Doisneau didn’t go down in the books for his fashion photography but his “street photography”. Some of his favorite pictures were of street urchins and those whom he called “Urban Gallantry” (prostitutes). He used to wander the streets at night trying to capture those on the edge of French society. One of his favorite pictures, taken in 1935, is a near self-portrait of Doisneau as a street kid. A short film about his version of Paris, Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, was made in 1973. Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947, the Prix Niepce in 1956 and was a consultant to Expo ’67, Canada. He died on April Fools’ Day 1994.

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Marilyn Monroe

Behind the camera: The many press photographers and bystanders that took pictures of the movie shoot for, The Seven Year Itch
Where: The pictures were shot at Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street close to the Trans-Lux theatre.
Photo Summary: Marilyn Monroe
Picture Taken: Late Sept 8, early morning of Sept 9, 1954

Before her death, Marilyn Monroe was an iconic Movie star who’s movies thrilled millions. This famous scene was shot for the movie, The Seven Year Itch . The picture has been turned into posters, t-shirts, mugs and is probably her most famous image. Filmed on location on Lexington Ave, New York, the New Yorkers who turned up to watch the filming got so out of control that the director couldn’t use any of the footage taken because of the crowd noise. The scene had to be recreated in Studio but then was cut by the censors for being too steamy. In the actual movie, her skirt never rises above her knees.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 – August 4, 1962) was an American actress, singer, and model. After acting in small roles for several years, she gradually became known for her comedic skills, sex appeal, and screen presence, going on to become one of the most popular movie stars of the 1950s. She was and is idolized throughout the world as a sex goddess. Later in her career, she worked towards serious roles with a measure of success but was always restrained by several prescription drug addictions. On August 4, 1962, Marilyn Monroe died between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at her home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. She was 36 years old. The cause of death based on the toxicology report was acute barbiturate poisoning.

Marilyn and Joe Dimaggio

We haven’t lost a star; we’ve gained a center fielder
-Fox execs on the Dimaggio marriage

Marilyn was married three times in her short life. Her third and last was to Arthur Miller the famous playwright on June 29, 1956. Author of the play Death of a Salesman and a movie Marilyn stared in, The Misfits; their marriage lasted four years and seven months with the two divorcing in 1961. Her first marriage was when she was just 16 to James Dougherty on June 19, 1942. She filed for divorce in Las Vegas, Nevada and it was finalized on September 13, 1946.

Her second was in 1951 she eloped with, famous baseball player, Joe DiMaggio on January 14, 1954. Fox loved the idea of marriage with executives boasting that “we haven’t lost a star; we’ve gained a center fielder”. The marriage was rocky from the start with Joe pressuring Marilyn to become a quiet wife while Marilyn tried to keep her star rising. Even on their honeymoon, Marilyn left to do a tour for the troops in Korea. A busy schedule of movies saw Marilyn go directly from the movie set of Show Business to the set of The Seven Year Itch. This was a move that made Dimaggio furious as he wanted to spend some time with his new wife. An abusive man, friends, and makeup people would often see bruises on her arms and backs from her fights with Joe. When Marilyn visited Marlon Brando on the set of Desirée he noticed that her arm was black and blue. Yet the stoic Marilyn, while their marriage was crumbling she, had to shoot, The Seven Year Itch.

The scene from The Seven Year Itch

The Seven Year Itch was a play turned into a movie about a man who sent his family away upstate to escape the hot and humid New York summer. While alone he meets his new neighbor, the blonde and beautiful Marilyn Monroe, known in the movie as “the girl”. The two get to know each other and he is torn between his lust for the girl and being faithful to his wife.

The scene in which the skirt was to blow up was a part of the movie were Marilyn’s character, known as the girl, was on a date with the main character, Richard Sherman played by Tom Ewell. They are walking out of the Trans-Lux theatre where they just watched Creature from the Black Lagoon. As they walk down the street Marilyn sees the breeze wafting up from the sidewalk grates as a subway car passes underneath. Even though it is night, New York is still hot and humid and she runs over to catch the breeze. As subways run back and forth and her skirt is lifted up, she says her lines from which we get some famous quotes such as, “Don’t you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?” and “Ooohhh! This feels just elegant!”

This particular scene is where Richard Sherman is overtaken by the moment and kisses Marilyn. However, while the play had Sherman eventually sleeping with Marilyn’s character the movie ends with Sherman being faithful and running to upstate New York to join his wife and son.

Behind the Scenes


Crowd around Marilyn while filming the famous scene picture by Sam Shaw

Crowd around Marilyn while filming the famous scene, picture by Sam Shaw


Directed by Billy Wilder the film required the subway skirt scene to be shot at a location on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street in New York. Fox Studio publicity men put the word out on the street that Marilyn would be on location wearing an outfit that would, “stop traffic”. Marilyn who by this time was taking multiple pills for various ailments both real and imagined struggled with her lines. While Marilyn did a take after take a crowd began to develop around the many photographers who showed up to get pictures. Rather than being quiet and constrained, the mob of New Yorkers yelled and whooped whenever the skirt was blown up over her waist which the bright movie lights, despite wearing two sets of underwear, revealed “all” of Marilyn.

The Split

Joe Dimaggio hated publicity and Hollywood, he usually stayed away from the set but since Marilyn was filming in New York he hovered nearby drinking at a bar. He ran into a friend, Walter Winchell who convinced him to go to the set and watch Marilyn.

The scene when he arrived was of thousands of fans screaming every time they could see her underwear. Conservative Joe Dimaggio while listening to the roar of the mob in time with the skirt lifting over her waist became infuriated and stormed off the set. At the hotel, that night crewmen heard screaming from their room and the next day Marilyn’s hairdresser, Gladys Whitten had to cover up bruises on her shoulders with make-up.

After filming, the couple flew back to California were friends saw more fights and neighbors saw Marilyn wandering the streets crying. 274 days after getting married the two staged an elaborate press conference where they announced that they were getting a divorce due to, “conflict of careers” and, “the usual mental cruelty”.
The skirt scene that helped kill the marriage was thrown out by the director as the crowd noise made it unusable. The whole street was recreated in a studio so that Marilyn could do it again in privacy. Even then most of the skirt shots were cut from the picture when the Hollywood censorship board, the Hays Code or Production code, killed any shot where the skirt went over the knee.

The Dress

Over the years actress, Debbie Reynolds amassed a huge collection of Hollywood memorabilia including the infamous dress used in this image. In 2011 her collection was put on the auction block and a lucky and very rich bidder bought the dress for $4.6 million ( $5.52 million after taxes and fees were included ) This smashed the record for the most-payed-for dress which was held by Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black dress from the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany‘s, which sold for $923,187.

Copyright images

AP Images handles the listening for some of the September 8, 1954, Seven Year Itch photos.

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Betty Grable

Behind the camera: Frank Powolny
Where: Studio
Photo Summary: Betty Grable in a promotional shot for the movie Sweet Rosie O’Grady
Picture Taken:1943

While American soldiers were overseas fighting World War II, they longed for something that reminded them of home. They chose this picture of Betty Grable. Some liked her sexy figure; others thought she reminded them of that ideal “girl back home.” Whatever the reason, she was by far the number-one pin-up girl during that time.

Taking the picture

Grable had just finished the movie Sweet Rosie O’Grady, and the studio needed some bathing suit shots. Grable herself remembers that “the session wasn’t going too well; Frank was trying to achieve something different. After about a dozen shots, he told me to turn my back to the camera and he would catch my face in profile. I obliged, turned my face toward the camera, and asked, ‘How about this?'” which was when Powolny snapped his photo. Powolny remembers that:

I asked Betty if she’d like to have a back shot, just to be different, She said, ‘Yes,’ and began to clown around. ‘You want it like this?’ she asked, posing. And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I made only two shots of that pose. It was the second shot that became famous.

There are some who claim that Grable was pregnant at the time when this shoot happened but both her kids Victoria and Jessica’s birth dates wouldn’t match up. Victoria was born on March 4, 1944, and Jessica was born on May 20, 1947. It was doubtful that the pregnancy would have been showing in early 1943 if she conceived as late as June 1943. Also, Powolny took other photos of her facing the camera and it doesn’t appear to show a baby bump. When the studio released the photo it became the most requested picture in movie history.
FOX studios saw its potential and persuaded the US military to allow it to distribute 5 million postcards of this picture to American GIs fighting in the war. Soldiers soon had painted the picture on planes, bomber jackets, and barrack walls making it the most popular pin-up during the war.
[midgoogle]

Betty Grable

She was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri, on December 18, 1916. The third child of John Conn Grable (June 28, 1883-January 25, 1954) and Lillian Rose Hofmann (May 29, 1889-December 24, 1964). Her sister was Marjorie L. Grable (April 17, 1909-November 25, 1980) and her brother was John Carl Grable (who died in infancy). She was propelled into acting by her mother, who insisted that one of her daughters become a star. For her first role, as a chorus girl in the movie Happy Days (1929), Grable was only 13 years old (legally underage for acting), but, because the chorus line performed in blackface, it was impossible to tell how old she was.

She got a number of small-time roles in various movies before obtaining a contract with 20th Century Fox, becoming their top star throughout the 40s. It was during her reign as box-office champ (in 1943) that Grable posed for her iconic pin-up photo, which (along with her movies) soon became escapist fare among GIs fighting overseas in World War II. Despite solid competition from Rita Hayworth, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, and Lana Turner, Grable was indisputably the number-one pin-up girl for American soldiers. She was wildly popular at home as well, placing in the top ten box-office draws each year for ten years. By the end of the 1940s, Grable was the highest-paid female star in Hollywood.

Also, in 1943, she married jazz trumpeter and big band leader Harry James, by whom she had two children; they divorced in 1965. Grable’s later career was marked by feuds with studio heads, who worked her to exhaustion. At one point, in the middle of a fight with Darryl F. Zanuck, she tore up her contract with him and stormed out of his office. Gradually leaving movies entirely, she made the transition to television and starred in Las Vegas.

I little tragic irony involved a nuclear weapon named after Betty. On May 25, 1953, the largest atomic weapon fired by artillery was exploded over the Las Vegas desert in the test series named Operation Upshot-Knothole. The cannon was named Atomic Annie while the shell and the blast were named Grable. Thousands of military personnel were present at the Grable blast to test exposure to radiation. Operation Upshot-Knothole was responsible for the release of a large portion of the radioactive iodine produced as a result of continental nuclear tests. This fallout resulted in thousands of cases of cancer. Grable herself died of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, 30 years to the day after her marriage to Harry James. She is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.

Frank Powolny

Frank Powolny was an immigrant moving to the United States when he was 13, growing up in Clarkson, Nebraska. As the chief portrait and still photographer at 20th Century Fox from 1923 to 1966 he captured thousands of stars including taking the last known photographs of Marilyn Monroe. On January 5th, 1986 he died of a heart attack in Valencia.

Picture copyright


The Wikipedia Commons website claims this image is in the public domain.

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Man Sucked Into Jet Engine

Behind the camera: Deck Camera
Where: Flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt
Photo Summary: John Bridget is shown getting sucked into an A-6E’s engine
Picture Taken: 03:41:11 Feb 20, 1991
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by Navy personnel

Not to be confused with the video of a helmet getting sucked into a Jet, this video is actual footage of a one John Bridget (21 years old at the time) getting sucked into an A-6E Intruder’s jet engine. It’s been a segment on numerous TV shows like World’s Wildest Videos and has since been taped, digitized and uploaded to the net. Once online it became quite famous, as its small size made for easy sharing. The footage got a second life when it was revealed that not only did the man get sucked into an engine but that he survived.

Getting sucked into a Jet engine doesn’t happen very often but it has happened in the past. In another incident in January 01, 2006 a mechanic was sucked into the jet engine of a Boeing 737 at El Paso International Airport and killed.

Video Breakdown


The video starts on the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and according to the camera time, it’s 03:41:11 Feb 20, 1991. An A-6E pilot is getting ready for take off as a trainee checks the position of the carrier launching mechanism. All this time the pilot has the engines at full throttle and as the trainee moves away from the trainer, a green shirt (Navy personnel wear color coated uniforms), John Bridget, comes to make sure everything is OK. Navy personal Daniel P Streckfuss tells the story from there:

I was attached to VFA-15 on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt during that deployment in 1991. This occurred [during Desert Storm, Desert Storm ended February 28, 1991]. He did survive and I’m surprised the editors of that video didn’t include him climbing out. What allowed him to survive was the design of the A-6 engine (the J-52). It has a long protruding ‘bullet’ or cone that extends in front of the first stage fans. When he was sucked in, his arm extended above his head which caused his body to wedge between the bullet and inside wall of the intake. Lucky for him, his cranial and float coat were sucked in first causing the FOD’d engine which prompted the pilot to cut the throttle (commanded by the Shooter who moves into the frame kneeling and moving his wand up and down). It took almost 3 minutes for him to push his way out of the intake after being sucked in. Needless to say, I don’t think he was seen on the flight deck for the rest of the cruise.

According to the video, the scene where he has bandages around his head and his arm taped up was taken only a few hours after the incident. After recovering from his injuries he left the Navy.

A-6 Intruder

19 December 1996 saw the last launch of an A-6E Intruder from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) marked the last Intruder squadron to fly from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

The A-6E Intruder, the plane that sucked in the Navy man, is a twin-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service between 1963 and 1996, the Intruder was designed as a replacement for the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider. A specialized electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6B Prowler, remains in service as of 2006. As the A-6 neared retirement, it was replaced at some reduction in combat radius by the multi-role F/A-18 Hornet and fighter-bomber adaptations of the now also retired F-14 Tomcat.

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)

The video was filmed on the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) (known affectionately as the Big Stick or TR). It is the fourth Nimitz-class supercarrier and its call sign is Rough Rider, the name of President Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War. It was launched on 27 October 1984 and saw action in the first Gulf War. On 9 June 1990, Capt. Charles S. Abbot became the ship’s third Commanding Officer and on 28 December, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield. Theodore Roosevelt entered the war on 9 January 1991, eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February.

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Leeroy Jenkins

Behind the camera: Anfrony, Pals for Life member
Where: The Upper Black Rock Spire. Not too far in – the area is called the Rookery
Photo Summary: “Pals for Life” members and Ben Schulz aka Leeroy Jenkins
Picture Taken:

Not to be confused with Leroy Jenkins the famous Jazz musician, Leeroy Jenkins is the name of a famous machinima video clip, that was created in the Blizzard Entertainment’s popular MMORPG World of Warcraft or WoW. The clip is famous for one of the characters running off into a Lion’s Den … actually, Dragon’s Den where he gets himself and most of his companions killed. The clip has since become an Internet meme and spread well beyond the boundaries of the WoW community, into other online games and media. A presentation at the 2005 “Aesthetics of Play” conference at the University of Bergen described Leeroy as the “one icon of the WoW player, one movie from the game that most people have seen. So mainstream is the “Leeroy Jenkins” clip that the character was mentioned as part of a clue on the November 16, 2005 episode of the game show Jeopardy! as part of their college week tournament. ”

Video Breakdown





The video clip is a computer recording of the game World of Warcraft. The clip begins with a dozen players from the group or clan Pals for Life (P4L), including Leeroy, planning a raid on The Rookery, a virtual location in the WOW world, part of the Upper Blackrock Spire. The players are heard conversing over Ventrilo, a type of voice over software, before entering combat. Jamaal is the one doing most of the planning and talking. Leeroy, remains quiet and off to the side. He has since stated that he was away, “reheating myself some previously bought fried chicken for my own enjoyment”. Just as they are discussing tactics (which players of the game will recognize to be comically poor) and calculating the possible rate of survival for the attack, Leeroy suddenly springs to life, shouting his battle cry: “Alright chums, I’m (back), let’s do this! LEEROOOOOOOY!!! JENKIIIIIINS!!!”. He then charges fearlessly into The Rookery, to the complete and utter incredulity of his teammates. Attempting to save him, they follow him in and are quickly overwhelmed by the whelplings, and unable to stick to the plan. At the conclusion of the clip, one of his teammates remarks, “Leeroy, you are just stupid as hell”, to which he replies, “Least I have chicken.”

Was it Staged?

Almost as soon as the clip was posted WOW gamers claimed it was staged due and after much debate and controversy Pals for Life, Leeroy’s guild, have admitted that this was a staged promotional video. They maintain, however, that it is essentially a faithful re-enaction of a true event.

Interviews with Leeroy

Leeroy aka Ben Schulz (aged 24 as of Oct 25, 2005)did a number of interviews including one with Played to Death and GGL.com. In the interviews, it’s revealed that Leeroy is based out of Laffayete, Colorado and he’s been playing WoW since the early open beta version. At the time of the interview, Ben’s character Leeroy was at, level 60 with a PVP rank of sergeant that works as a miner/engineer.
Leeroy did get kicked out of the P4L after the incident but was allowed to return 5min later. Ben, when asked about how often he plays the game, said ” …about four or five hours a day. Some days I take a break … I’m currently unemployed so that helps (laughs) … Actually I just graduated in December … I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering [with] emphasis on digital signal processing and system design stuff. So, like making a cell phone.” As of May 2006, Ben is working as a repair technician for industrial lighting. He was offered a position as a game tester for EA but at $10 an hour turned it down.
He got the name one day while hanging with his friends:

It was pretty much made up. I was sitting around with a few guild-mates drinking forties … we start throwing out name for each other and Leeroy Jenkins popped out. I like the name because it was fun to yell … The rushing itself doesn’t happen too often. It happens a little more now when we are joking around. My “Leeroy Jenkins” yell happens far more often. I’ve been yelling that for about four years. (laughs)
[Leeroy tried to gain control of his name and the rampant merchandising but he said there was,] “actually nothing I can do about it now. I can trademark the name henceforth, which I have looked into, but other than that the video is public domain. The [Pals 4 Life] have made our own T Shirts … That’s www.ThePals4life.com. We’ve only sold three shirts and a thong, but we are really excited about the thong selling. There is nothing in my life that makes me happier than pulling down a chick’s pants and seeing my face.

Cheering for the Whiter One


Leeroy stepped into a little bit of controversy when it was revealed that he would be cheering the “white” as in a caucasian team. Here is how he tried to explain it:

I guess it came out wrong but like I’ve tried explaining that before but until America televises video gaming to that extent and we have people that are that hyped about it and play that hard to get there we are not going to produce that kind of players that Korea is producing right now. They are superstars. They play against the best and people strive to do that much harder than they do here. So in that, generally, Koreans kick the shit out of the white dudes. And that’s what that was about. I was just doing that to root for the underdog.

Timeline of Fame

This Internet phenomenon started with the release of a video clip online to the World of Warcraft forums. The video was released by the World of Warcraft Alliance player guild PALS FOR LIFE on the Laughing Skull PvP realm.
Leeroy was given a substantial boost in notoriety by the publication of an article in the August 2005 issue of PC Gamer UK by author Craig Pearson, entitled “The Ballad of Leeroy Jenkins”. Pearson’s article claims that the original video was designed as a negative commentary on the kind of “nerd-guilds” that meticulously and statistically plan out raids the way Leeroy’s guild was apparently doing. Leeroy is, in fact, the hero of the piece, acting against the geekiness of his guild.
A sidebar found in Pearson’s article titled “How to Be a Leeroy: Perhaps You Already Are?” cites Urban Dictionary as an indication that Leeroy has become a descriptive noun; “to Leeroy” is even being used as a verb in some circles. The article further encourages the readers to send in their best examples of being a Leeroy to “I’m a Leeroy” at the magazine’s address.

Mentions outside the Internet fuel the fame


Leeroy’s fame has crossed over into the mainstream by not only being featured as a Jeopardy question but also:

  • Mentioned in a strip of the popular comic, FoxTrot
  • Leeroy has recently been added to the Upper Deck World of Warcraft Trading Card Game (TCG). The card was drawn by Mike Krahulik, the artist who draws the webcomic Penny Arcade. Leeroy’s TCG appearance along with rumors of his cameo in the upcoming World of Warcraft motion picture keeps the legend alive into the future.
  • Referenced in the Marvel Comics series, Runaways, Vol. 2 #18, when Victor Mancha yells out the name to Chase Stein as he charges headlong into a burning building.
  • In MegaMan Battle Network 6, a man looking at a jellyfish tank in the aquarium states “The right jellyfish is Leeroy. The left is Jenkins.”
  • In the beginning clip of AMV Hell 3, of the popular AMV Hell series, Leeroy’s end catchphrase “At least I have chicken,” appears. However, it is jokingly referred to as “an old Klingon proverb.”
  • In the South Park episode Make Love, Not Warcraft, some of the words that Cartman uses when they start the final battle are quotes from the video, said in the same matter-of-fact tone of the video’s narrator. In the same episode, a character appears named Jenkins. Lastly, at the end of the credits, the Leeroy Jenkins voice is heard saying “it’s not my fault!”
  • Number of downloads

    As of December 2005, the Warcraft Movies website reports well over 1,500,000 downloads of the original Leeroy Jenkins video. However, it is difficult to estimate the total number of people who have seen the original video largely because it has appeared on numerous other websites like google video and YouTube, file sharing networks, and has been sent extensively by email as well. On Google and YouTube alone there have been over a million downloads.

    Transcript

    PALS 4 LIFE have now released as close to an ‘official’ transcript as is likely to be seen. Since there was no script the P4Ls have tried their hand at remembering who said what. Some of the audio is too bad to hear clearly, even for the P4Ls.
    Jamaal: [talking to teammates outside cave] OK guys, these eggs have given us a lot of trouble in the past, uh does anybody need anything off this guy or can we bypass him?

    Ritter: Uhh, I think Leeroy needs something from this guy.

    Jamaal: Oh, does he, he [sic] need those Devout Shoulders? Doesn’t, doesn’t [sic] he a paladin?

    Ritter: Yeah, but that will help him heal better, he’ll have more mana.

    Jamaal: [sighs] Christ. OK, uhh well what we’ll do, I’ll run in first, uh gather up all the eggs, we can kinda just, ya know blast them all down with AOE. Um, I will use Intimidating Shout, to kinda scatter’em, so we don’t have to fight a whole bunch of them at once. Uhh, when my Shouts are done, uhh, I’ll need Anfrony to come in and drop his Shout too, uh so we can keep them scattered and not have to fight too many. Um, when his is done, Bas of course will need to run in and do the same thing. Uhh, we’re gonna need Divine Intervention on our mages, uhh so they can, uhh, AE, uh so we can of course get them down fast, cause we’re bringing all these guys, I mean, we’ll be in trouble if we don’t take them down quick. Uhh I think this is a pretty good plan, we should be able to pull it off this time. Uhh, what do you think Abduhl? Can you give me a number crunch real quick?

    Abduhl: Uhhh.. yeah gimme a sec… I’m coming up with thirty-two point three three, repeating of course, percentage, of survival.

    Jamaal: That’s a lot better than we usually do, uhh, alright, you think we’re ready guys? [interrupted]

    Leeroy: All right chums, I’m (back)! Let’s do this! LEEROOOOOOOY JEEENKIIIIIINSSS!!! [runs into cave]

    -Short pause-

    Forekin: [incredulous] … Oh my God he just ran in. [runs in]

    Ritter: Save him!

    Jamaal: Oh jeez, stick to the plan.

    Forekin: Oh jeez, let’s go, let’s go! [follows]

    Abduhl [laughing]: Stick to the plan chums!

    Jamaal: Stick to the plan!

    Forekin: Oh jeez, oh fuck.

    Therien: Gimme a Divine Intervention, hurry up.

    Jamaal: Shoutin’!

    Therien: It’s saying I can’t cast! I can’t move, am I lagging, guys?

    Spiffy: I can’t move!

    Forekin: What the—what the hell?

    Spiffy: I can’t AE!

    Forekin: Oh my God…

    Abduhl: The eggs just keep respawning! More respawning!!

    Forekin: I don’t think you can cast with that shit on!

    Spiffy: Oh my God!

    Leeroy: We got em, we got em!

    Basphemy: I got it! I got it! [muffled shouts]

    Jamaal: Jamaal’s down. Jamaal’s down.

    Forekin: Oh my God..

    Jamaal: Goddamnit Leeroy!

    Forekin: Goddamnit…

    Abduhl: Leeroy you moron! [various put-downs of Leeroy amongst group]

    Unknown: gremove gremove

    Ritter: I’m on it.

    Basphemy: It’s on Bas.

    Jamaal: This is ridiculous.

    Forekin: I’m down, Forekin down. Goddamnit.

    Basphemy: Bas is down.

    Abduhl: This is the (something)th time we’ve died on this, God!

    Abduhl: Spiffy, rez us! Spiffy, rez us!

    Jamaal: Why do you do this shit Leeroy?

    Spiffy: I’m trying!

    Leeroy [crying]: It’s not my fault!

    Forekin: Who’s Soulstoned?

    Jamaal: We do have a Soulstone up, don’t we? [everyone dies] Think I need a Soulstone?

    Abduhl: Yeah but I don’t think we brought a Warlock.

    Forekin [noticing everybody is dead]: … Oh God…

    Jamaal + Others: Oh for – [sighs] Great job!

    Unknown: For Christ’s sake! [indistinguishable]

    Unknown: Fag.

    Abduhl: Leeroy, you are just stupid as hell.

    Spiffy: Nimrod.

    Leeroy: … ‘Least I have chicken

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    MacArthur and the Emperor

    Behind the camera: MacArthur’s official photographer Gaetano Faillace
    Where: MacArthur’s personal residence in the US Embassy in Tokyo
    Photo Summary: Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur meeting for the first time
    Picture Taken: September 27, 1945
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, Gaetano Faillace

    After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the American’s took on the task of occupying Japan and reforming the militaristic nation into a modern country that would never again threaten its neighbors. To minimize the number of American soldiers needed to keep the country under control the occupation command, known as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) or GHQ (General Headquarters), maintained the Emperor in his position of head of the state and as a rallying point for the Japanese people. Under pressure from other Allied nations, the American public (Immediately after war 70% of Americans wanted him killed), and elements inside Japan itself for destruction of the Japanese God-Emperor the SCAP had this picture published to show that Emperor Hirohito was supported by MacArthur and the occupation forces.

    Taking the picture

    In 1945 a meeting was arranged for MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito to meet and to discuss how to save his throne. Arriving at 10:00 on September 27, 1945, in his Rolls Royce the Emperor and his entourage of Imperial guards and advisers, were greeted by American SCAP officials Faubion Bowers and Bonner Fellers. The Americans saluted the Emperor and he first bowed to them and then shook their hands. Bowers then took the Emperor’s top hat which seemed to alarm Hirohito who as the God Emperor of the Japanese people was not used to be people taking things from him. As the American officer was taking the hat MacArthur burst into the room:

    in that stentorian voice of burnished gold that thrilled everyone who heard it, ‘You are very, very welcome, sir!'” It was the first time Bowers had ever heard the general say ‘sir’ to anyone. The supreme commander reached out to clasp the Emperor’s hand, and the emperor simultaneously bowed so deeply that the handshake ended up taking place above his head. — Embracing Defeat by John Dower

    MacArthur then took Hirohito into a private room with just the Imperial translator, Okumura Katsuzo. The Supreme Commander and the Emperor, through his translator, spent 40min together and swore to keep the contents of their conversation secret. Though over the years some details leaked out. According to the Americans, Emperor Hirohito offered to take responsibility for the war which MacArthur brushed aside. This is contrasted by the Japanese. Thirty years after the meeting the Imperial translator, Okumura Katsuzo, released his memoirs which claimed that MacArthur was “a fawning courtier awed by his proximity to ‘Your Majesty’ and extraordinarily solicitous in his comments.”
    In all three photos were taken. In one Supreme commander’s eyes were closed and the Emperor’s mouth gaping open, Hirohito’s gaping open also ruined the second. The third is the one that was published.

    The response

    When the image was published on September 29, 1945, it caused a sensation in Japan. At a glance those who saw the picture understand who was the real Emperor in post-war Japan. MacArthur in his almost causal dress without medals towering over Hirohito who stood stiffly in a formal suit looking uncomfortable at the whole situation. The Image set-up was, the media adapt, MacArthur’s idea.

    When the papers hit the street the Japanese censors at the Home Ministry, which this close to the surrender were still controlling the Japanese presses, became outraged and tried to have the picture censored. SCAP was then able to win two victories first by publishing an image showing who was really in charge and second overruling the Japanese censors there-by introducing the Japanese to the concept of freedom of the press.
    Many Japanese remember seeing the image and it finally sinking in that they were the conquered and that the Americans and their General MacArthur were in charge.

    General MacArthur

    Douglas MacArthur was a career military man who lived from January 26, 1880, to April 5, 1964. Coming from a long line of military men he was valedictorian when he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He took the rank of First Captain when he graduated top of the class of 1903. Rising through the ranks he was brigadier general during World War I when he led American troops on the Western Front.
    After the war, he was involved in many civil disturbances in America and in the Philippines. In 1937 he retired from the military and become Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. When war broke out he had already been called back into service and he was General when the Americans lost the Philippines after a series of shocking victories by the Japanese Imperial army. He was forced to abandon his troops and flee to Australia where he would rebuild an American Pacific Army and after years of hard fighting force Japan out of the war. He oversaw the occupation of Japan with the official title of Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) which was also the name of his department that oversaw the everyday details of the occupation.

    When war broke out in Korea he was again leading Allied armies this time against the Communists. During the Korean War, he frequently came into conflict with President Truman and on April 10, 1951, an order was signed relieving him of command. When he returned to America is was his first visit to the continental United States since 1937. His boy Arthur IV, now aged 13, had actually never been to the United States.
    He worked in the private sector and his advice was sought after by many a president. On April 5, 1964, he died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center of biliary cirrhosis. He was granted a State Funeral by President Johnson and that he be buried “with all the honor a grateful nation can bestow on a departed hero.”

    Emperor Hirohito

    Emperor Hirohito lived from April 29, 1901, to January 7, 1989, and was the 124th emperor of Japan. When he took power Japan was an Imperial military superpower with the ninth-largest economy, the third-biggest Navy and one of the five permanent members of the council of the League of Nations. During his reign, he oversaw and approved of an aggressive military takeover of most of Asia which eventually lead to Japan attacking America starting its entry into World War II. After the war, the occupying force, including MacArthur did everything in its power to shield the Emperor from prosecution of war crimes often by laying the blame on his advisers a role they were only too happy to take as they had pledged their lives to protect the Japanese throne. After the war and after the American had left Hirohito focused on official duties such as welcoming head of states to Japan and his hobby marine biology. He published many scientific papers and contributed the description of several dozen species of Hydrozoa that were new to science.

    Gaetano Faillace

    From 1943 to 1945 during some of the toughest fighting in the Pacific Faillace was General MacArthur’s photographer. During the occupation, he followed the General in his official duties. During the War, he took some of the most famous images of the General including his return to the Philippines and at the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri. His photograph of MacArthur looking out at Corregidor Island, of the Philippines, was on the cover of the general’s memoirs, Reminiscences. On December 31, 1991, he died of cancer in Fayetteville, N.C. He was 87.

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    The George Washington Portrait

    Behind the camera: Gilbert Stuart
    Where: Gilbert Stuart’s studio in Germantown, Pennsylvania, near and now part of the city Philadelphia
    Photo Summary: George Washington
    Picture Taken: 1796
    This image is in the public domain because of its age

    In the aftermath of the American revolution, George Washington emerged as an iconic hero that led the new nation of America to Independence. He was the first elected President and images of him were in huge demand. One portrait artist Gilbert Stuart did a series of famous paintings as part of a series on Washington. This one, titled The Athenaeum, was commissioned in 1796 and become the basis for the American one dollar bill

    Painting the portrait

    By 1796 Washington was over 60 years old. For campaign reasons starting in 1789, he had been wearing dentures that were awkward to hold in his mouth. His first pairs were ill-fitting resulting in his face becoming sunken around the mouth. To fill out his face and provide a more natural look in this portrait Stuart ordered a larger pair of dentures and used cotton to expand his mouth area. The painting was commissioned by Washington’s wife Martha who was delighted in Stuart’s first portrait of Washington (Now called the Vaughan Portrait). Stuart never actually finished the original Athenaeum, for Martha, but created many copies that he did finish and sell to eager buyers.
    Washington would occasionally come around the studio to demand the painting be finished and handed over but Stuart never did and it remained unfinished until Stuart’s death in 1828. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston eventually came into possession of the painting where it remains to this day.

    Dollar Bill

    The American one dollar bill


    This portrait was chosen to be printed on the American one dollar in the 1928 series and hasn’t changed since although other aspects of the bill have been tweaked and adjusted from time to time. The one dollar bill is the most common bill of currency and of all the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, one dollar notes make up about 45% of currency production.

    Gilbert Stuart

    Gilbert Stuart was born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island on December 3, 1755. He showed his talents at a young age and trained under the Scottish artist, Cosmo Alexander. He quickly became a famed artist that painted over a thousand people in his lifetime including the first six Presidents of the United States. He became was one of 18th century America ‘s master portrait artists and his home is now a museum that showcases his life.

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    Depression Mother

    Behind the camera:
    Where: Just outside a temporary settlement called, Pea-Pickers Camp, on the outskirts of Nipomo, California. The camp was a temporary encampment for migrant farm workers and their families
    Photo Summary: Florence Owens Thompson flanked by daughter Katherine (age 4) on the left and Ruby (age 5) on the right. The Baby on Florence’s lap is Norma aged 1
    Picture Taken: Early March, 1936
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by Dorothea Lange

    Dorothea Lange’s famous picture of Florence Owens Thompson was taken during the Great Depression. While the book, Grapes of Wrath, became the literary representation of America’s poor during the ’30s, Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ picture became the visual one. Lange took the image of Florence Thompson with her family near the small town of Nipomo as part of a photo assignment for the government covering the plight of migrant farm workers. The official in charge of documenting and photographing the American poor for the federal project saw thousands of pictures as part of duties but describes the “Migrant Mother” as the “ultimate” photo of the Depression Era. The picture itself is part of a series of 6 and shows from left to right: Katherine age 4(head turned), Florence Owens (later married as Thompson) age 34, and Ruby Owens (head turned) age 5. The Baby on Florence’s lap is Norma aged 1.

    Depression photographer

    Dorothea Lange, the photographer was born in Hoboken New Jersey on May 26, 1895. At the age of seven, she developed polio which ravaged her right leg giving her a life long limp. In New York, she studied photography, and in 1918 she moved to the West coast opening a successful portrait studio in San Francisco. After the Great Depression, she became famous for her portraits of the effects of the stock market crash. Her pictures got the attention of the federal Resettlement Administration (RA), later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA), who in the mid ’30s offered her a job documenting America’s poor.

    Taking the Picture

    It was during March 1936 that as part of her effort to photograph migrants for the government that she took the famous shot of Florence Owens Thompson. Lange was returning to her Berkley, California home after spending a month taking pictures of migrant farmers around Los Angles. She had just passed through Santa Maria and was on the outskirts of another small Californian town, Nipomo when she saw a sprawling settlement with a sign declaring its name, Pea-Pickers Camp. Thousands had descended on the camp in hopes of getting work picking Peas in the surrounding farms. Unfortunately, an early cold snap had wiped out the crop and over 2000 people were stranded at the camp. Lange actually passed the camp as she was anxious to get home but after much internal debate decided to do a quick stop before continuing home.

    Dorothea Lange took a number of pictures of the family moving closer and closer each time.


    A U-turn brought her back to the camp and she quickly noticed a subject. In a 1960’s interview, she would recall that “I was following instinct, not reason, I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet.” Over 10 min and using her Graflex camera, she took 6 shots, with each exposure she moved closer to the family. The final vertical picture is what would later become the famous, “Migrant Mother”. The usually well organized Lange took detailed notes, but perhaps in her haste to get home only got the very basic of information, not even getting the subject’s name. Years later she would remember that the woman, “told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that her children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent, with her children huddled around her and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it”. She packed up her equipment and continued on her way, “I did not approach the tents and shelters of other stranded pea-pickers,” she remembered. “I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment.”
    [midgoogle]
    When she returned home, Lange developed the pictures and immediately sent them off to the San Francisco News who used two of the 6 shots but not the now famous, “Migrant Mother”. The paper ran the images in their March 10, 1936, edition under the headline: “Ragged, Hungry, Broke, Harvest Workers Live in Squalor.” The national media quickly picked up the story and used the “Migrant Mother” picture across the country. Public outcry ensured that the federal government quickly sent the “Pickers Camp” settlement 20,000 pounds of food.

    Florence Thompson Emerges


    Colorized version of the iconic Lange image

    Colorized version of the iconic Lange image


    The identity of the women in the picture wasn’t discovered until the late 70’s almost 40 years after the picture was taken. It was Florence Thompson herself who got in touch with the editors of her local newspaper, the Modesto Bee to tell her story.
    Florence Owens Thompson was born on September 1, 1901, in the Indian Territory of the Cherokee Nation with the name maiden name, Florence Leona Christie. Both of her parents claimed Cherokee blood rights to the land making her a full-blooded Native American of the Cherokee Nation. She lived on a small farm on the Cherokee Territory and when she was 17 married Cleo Owens, a 23-year-old farmer. They had three children before they moved with other members of the Owen family to California where they found work in the forestry and farming industries. After Wall Street crashed in 1929, millwork dried up and the family, then with 5 children moved to Oroville in northern California where the Owen clan found work on the surrounding farms.
    [bigquote quote=”we lived under that bridge” author=”Thompson”]
    Florence’s husband Cleo, sadly died shortly after the move when he caught a fever one day while picking peaches. At the time of his death, she was pregnant and the Owen family offered to take some of the children, an offer Florence refused. She stayed with her husband’s family for two years working in the fields during the day and at a restaurant at night to support her family. In 1933 she found out that she was pregnant again and fled back to her parent’s home out of fear the father would take her child.
    She lived with her family for a short time before they too moved out to California in hopes of better work. Over the next few years, the family along with thousands of migrant workers drove up and down California, camping along the way, in search of farm work so that she could feed her and her children. In 1935 she started a relationship with James R. Hill and soon she was pregnant again, eventually giving birth to a girl, Norma Lee in March of 1935. With Hill she had three more children, life was hard and they moved constantly throughout California always just making it, just getting enough food on the table. Thompson would later recall, “when Steinbeck wrote in The Grapes of Wrath about those people living under the bridge at Bakersfield—at one time we lived under that bridge. It was the same story. Didn’t even have a tent then, just a ratty old quilt.” Hill who was remembered by her daughter as not having much ambition, eventually moved out of the family’s life and after World War II she married hospital administrator George Thompson who Florence was finally able to find stability with and resources to support her family.

    Not what she seems

    Around the same time, the Modesto Bee article was published, author Bill Ganzel was writing a book, Dust Bowl Descent, about people photographed by the RA during the depression. During his research, he came upon Florence Thompson’s story, tracked her down in 1979. During his interviews, he was able to get Florence and her family’s version of what happened when Lange pulled into the camp and took their picture.
    In March of 1936 Florence then still with Jim Hill had finished work picking beets and were off to the Pajoro Valley in their Hudson Sedan in hopes of finding work in the Pajoro Valley’s lettuce fields. On Highway 101, just outside Nipomo, the Hudson’s timing chain broke and they were able to get the car into the pea picker’s camp in hopes of making repairs. They were amazed at a number of people in the camp and the conditions they were living in. Florence would later recall that while making a meal for the family children from the surrounding camps came over to beg because they didn’t have any food. Disaster struck when the boys punctured the radiator with a screwdriver while trying to fix their car. They then had to remove the radiator and take it to town in order to do repairs.
    While the boys were in town Dorothea Lange came into the camp and took her pictures. In Lange’s field notes, she described the family as, “Seven hungry children. Father is native Californian. Destitute in pea pickers’ camp … because of failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tires to buy food.” Florence insists that Lange never asked her any questions. According to Florence she just took the pictures and told her that they would never be published and her family would later tell Bill Ganzel, “There’s no way we sold our tires, because we didn’t have any to sell … The only ones we had were on the Hudson and we drove off in them. I don’t believe Dorothea Lange was lying, I just think she had one story mixed up with another. Or she was borrowing to fill in what she didn’t have.”
    When the story broke and the food was delivered to the Pea Pickers camp, the Owens-Hill family had already moved on and reached their destination, the outskirts of Watsonville, in Pajaro Valley.

    Mama’s been shot, Mama’s been shot
    Thompson’s kids

    It was here while selling newspapers to make extra money that the family saw the front cover with their mother’s picture. Due to a typing error, a large ink spot appeared in the middle of Florence’s forehead and first the children thought that their mother had been shot. The boys remember running back to where their mother was camped screaming, “‘Mama’s been shot, Mama’s been shot,’ … We both ran back to camp, and, of course, she was OK. We showed her the picture, and she just looked at it. She didn’t say nothin’.” In 1979 Bill Ganzel recreated the “Migrant Mother” taking a picture of Florence Thompson and her three daughters, Norma Rydlewski, Katherine McIntosh and Ruby Sprague the same three who were present in the 1936 picture.

    Florence always hated the picture and whenever she saw it would get angry because she thought Lange was getting rich off her image. However, because Lange was taking the picture for the federal government she never directly received any money. The picture did provide Lange celebrity and respect from her colleagues. Lange’s childhood polio would come to haunt her in her later years and she suffered from bleeding ulcers and post-polio syndrome. On October 11, 1965, she died at the age of seventy without ever knowing who the subject was in her famous picture.

    Life moves on

    Florence’s extended family grew through the ages and she passed on her legacy of hard work and loyalty to her 10 children, 39 grandchildren, 74 great-grandchildren. She always hated the picture but in 1983 it would come in useful. In early 1983 then 81 Thompson was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment of the disease triggered a stroke and she soon required round the clock care. By the summer of 1983, her bill was reaching $1400 a week. The family couldn’t afford it and turned to the public. Jack Foley of the San Jose Mercury News picked up the story and it got national attention. Soon envelopes started pouring in from all over the country eventually raising more than $35,000. Florence’s children were overwhelmed by the response and reflected that “None of us ever really understood how deeply Mama’s photo affected people … I guess we had only looked at it from our perspective. For Mama and us, the photo had always been a bit of a curse. After all those letters came in, I think it gave us a sense of pride.” The response of the nation seemed to improve Florence’s health but she never recovered from the stroke. On September 16, 1983, Florence Thompson died at her son’s home. A nurse who was helping out with her care recalls, “Right before Florence died … she opened her eyes and looked right at me. It was the most conscious she had been in a long time. I went to get the family. They were holding her, kissing her cheek, stroking her hair. Telling her how much they loved her. And then she took her last breath. It was a beautiful, very peaceful moment. It felt very complete.”

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    Naked Lennon

    Behind the camera: Annie Leibovitz
    Where: Lennon’s New York bedroom
    Photo Summary: John Lennon and Yoko Ono from cover of Rolling Stone Magazine
    Picture Taken: Picture taken on December 8, 1980 for Rolling Stones magazine Cover 335, January 22, 1981

    The cover of Rolling Stones Edition 335 (January 22, 1981) was the famous shot of a naked John Lennon clinging to a fully clothed Yoko Ono. It was taken just hours before John was killed by crazed fan Mark Chapman. In 2005 Yoko and Lennon’s cover of Rolling Stone was voted the best cover by a panel of magazine editors who reviewed the best covers in the past four decades.

    Taking the Picture


    The morning of Dec 8, 1980, Annie Leibovitz visited the New York apartment of John Lennon and Yoko Ono to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stones. Annie originally tried to just get a shot of Lennon without Yoko but Lennon insisted that she be on the cover too. Annie recalled that “nobody wanted her on the cover”. She then thought of trying to recreate the kissing scene from his album cover, Double Fantasy an image that moved Annie Leibovitz very much.

    “What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’ — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I shot some test Polaroids first,” Leibovitz wrote a month later in Rolling Stone, “and when I showed them to John and Yoko, John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly’. I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.”
    Later that day Mark Chapman shot John as he was walking from his limo into his apartment.

    Doctors at the hospital worked frantically to stabilize Lennon but he had lost too much blood and was pronounced dead.  Yoko Ono asked the hospital to keep it a secret so that Ono could tell their son before he saw it on the news but an ABC reporter just happened to be in the hospital for an injury and scooped the story.

    When Annie Leibovitz heard that he had been shot she rushed to the hospital. She photographed the doctor announcing John’s death at the hospital.

    The last photo of Lennon taken with Chapman in the background.  By Paul Goresh

    The last photo of Lennon taken with Chapman in the background. By Paul Goresh

    Annie Leibovitz

    Leibovitz was one of six children, and was a “military brat”; her father was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, and family moved frequently when she was young. Leibovitz was influenced by her mother, a modern dance instructor.
    In high school, she became interested in various artistic endeavours, and wrote and played music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute. She became interested in photography after taking pictures on a trip to visit her family, who was then based in the Philippines. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while she worked various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz in Israel for several months in 1969.
    When Leibovitz returned to America in 1970, she became involved with Rolling Stone magazine, which had just launched a short time before. In 1973, publisher Jann Wenner named Leibovitz chief photographer of the magazine, and she remained with the magazine until 1983.
    This photo is often quoted as being the last picture of John but the very, very last photograph was a snap taken by a fan, Paul Goresh, who happened to be standing outside the Dakota building at that moment when John agreed to sign an album for another fan, Mark Chapman, who turned out to be his assassin.

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