Dead Americans at Buna Beach

Behind the camera: George Strock
Where: Buna Beach, New Guinea (Now Papua New Guinea)
Photo Summary: Three American bodies lying dead in the sand next to destroyed landing craft
Picture Taken: December 31, 1942
First published September 20, 1943 in LIFE

The Battle of Buna-Gona was a grueling campaign to stop the Japanese advance across New Guinea. After months of difficult and treacherous fighting, the combined Australian and American forces were able to attack the Japanese bases near the small New Guinea village of Buna. It was here that the Reporter George Strock was able to capture this photo of three dead American soldiers on the last day of 1942. When it was finally published in late 1943 it was the first time in WWII any American media had published an image of dead American troops.

When I took pictures, I wanted to bring the viewer into the scene
-George Strock

Getting it past the censors


George Strock handed his film over the LIFE photo editors who then selected the best images for publication in the LIFE magazine. Strock’s pictures from the Battle of Buna-Gona were published by LIFE magazine in its February 15 and 22, 1943 editions.

The image with dead soldiers was at first blocked by the military censors but one correspondent in Washington named Cal Whipple saw the value in this picture and made it his mission to get it published. He would recall spending months going “from Army captain to major to colonel to general, until I wound up in the office of an assistant secretary of the Air Corps, who decided, ‘This has to go to the White House.’” It was there that the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt, the War Department and the director of the Office of War Information, Elmer Davis gave their approval and allowed a LIFE to publish.

The picture was released in the September 20, 1943 LIFE issue with the following editorial

Here lie three Americans.

What shall we say of them? Shall we say that this is a noble sight? Shall we say that this is a fine thing, that they should give their lives for their country?

Or shall we say that this is too horrible to look at?

Why print this picture, anyway, of three American boys dead upon an alien shore? Is it to hurt people? To be morbid?

Those are not the reasons.

The reason is that words are never enough. The eye sees. The mind knows. The heart feels. But the words do not exist to make us see, or know, or feel what it is like, what actually happens. The words are never right. . . .

The reason we print it now is that last week, President Roosevelt and Elmer Davis and the War Department decided that the American people ought to be able to see their own boys as they fall in battle; to come directly and without words into the presence of their own dead.

And so here it is. This is the reality that lies behind the names that come to rest at last on monuments in the leafy squares of busy American towns.

First-Issues-of-Sports-Illustrated-Magazine-Mark-Kauffman

Bach’s Student, Mark Kauffman, took this photo at just 17.


George Strock

A native of Los Angeles George Strock went to John C. Fremont High School. While there he took part in a then-groundbreaking photojournalism course taught by Clarence A. Bach. Bach ran his high school program like it was an actual newspaper telling students to cover certain events and guiding them on what made a good shot, “look for the unexpected!” At just 17-years-old one of Bach’s proteges, Mark Kauffman, took a picture that ended up as the cover of the first Sports Illustrated magazine. Under Bach the Fremont High School photojournalism program launched the careers of no less than six LIFE photographers including George Strock. Throughout WWII about 146 of the students who went through Bach’s program became wartime photographers

After high school, Strock was a crime and sports photographer at The Los Angeles Times. In the late 30s, he married Rose Marie and with her had two sons, George and William.

In 1940 he joined the LIFE magazine team to cover the war. At first, he spent some time covering the European theatre before being sent to Australia in 1942. From November 1942 to January 1943 he covered the Battle of Buna-Gona where he took the famous picture of three dead soldiers. In late January he was sent back to America arriving in San Francisco on January 30, 1943.

He returned to cover the island hopping of the Pacific campaign and after the War worked at LIFE. HE never lost his touch and was able to get many cover shots on the LIFE Front cover. At the age of 66, George Strock died in his home city of Los Angeles on August 23, 1977.

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Painters on the Brooklyn Bridge

Behind the camera: Eugene de Salignac
Where: Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Photo Summary: Workers painting the bridge cables
Picture Taken: October 7, 1914

As the official photographer for the New York Department of Bridges from 1906 to 1934 Eugene de Salignac captured New York as it was transforming from a city packed with horses to one of towering sky scrappers and street cars. While documenting work on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on September 22, 1914 Salignac took a photo of workers painting the bridge cables. This may have been the inspiration to return a month later, on October 7, 1914, when he took this posed image of workers ,arranged almost musically, on the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge — 31 years after it first opened.

Eugene de Salignac


Brooklyn Bridge showing system of painting bridge on cables on September 22, 1914

Brooklyn Bridge showing system of painting bridge on cables on September 22, 1914


Eugene de Salignac is a bit of a mystery to historians. Born in 1861 he was 42-years-old, in 1903, when he got a job as assistant to the photographer for the Department of Bridges, Joseph Palmer. When Palmer unexpectedly died three years later Salignac took over his job. For decades he took pictures documenting New York’s transformation from horse and buggy streets to the modern urban jungle we know now. Over the course of his career, he shot over 20,000 images. Yet for decades they sat in the city archives collecting dust.

No one knew of his work until 1999 when the senior curator at the New York City Municipal Archives, Michael Lorenzini, was spooling through the city’s huge collection of microfilm. Lorenzini started to notice that most of the images in the collection had the same style. This hunch led him to discover a series of numbers on the negatives that led to an epiphany, “It just kind of hit me: this is one guy; this is a great photographer.”

The scale of Eugene de Salignac’s work is massive with more and more pictures discovered all the time. Working until his retirement in 1932 he took thousands of images. New York has uploaded many of Salignac’s pictures on its Department of Records website.

In 1943 he passed away, at 82-years-old, without anyone knowing the immensely important legacy he left behind in the city archives.

After he was “discovered” by Lorenzini in 1999 there have been a number of shows and in 2007 Aperture Publishers released a book called New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac with essays by Michael Lorenzini and photography scholar Kevin Moore.

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Reaching Out

Behind the camera: Larry Burrows
Where: Close to Hill 484, near the DMZ in South Vietnam
Photo Summary: Wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie reaching out to a fellow Marine near Hill 484. On the far left is 19-year-old, Navy corpsman Ron Cook and the man whose hand is touching Purdie’s shoulder is 18-year-old Private Dan King.
Picture Taken: October 5, 1966

After a long battle the wounded American Marines of, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, lay in wait for medical evacuation on a muddy hill in Quang Tri Province, just below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It was there that the Englishman Larry Burrows captured this image of wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie reaching out to a wounded comrade.

Taking the picture


On the far left of the picture is, then 19-year-old, Navy corpsman Ron Cook (Gary Landers photo)

On the far left of the picture is, then 19-year-old, Navy corpsman Ron Cook (Gary Landers photo)

In September of 1966, American Marines were ordered to two granite peaks, Hill 400 and Hill 484, in the forested region of Quang Tri Province, just below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The North Vietnamese forces were crossing the border and the Marines were sent to engage them.

Ron Cook a corpsman assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment remembers how much his unit struggled not just against the enemy but the infamous non-combat horrors of Vietnam. Disease-carrying mosquitoes, huge leeches, poisonous snakes were always a danger and all the while the rain meant that everything was wet all the time. At just 19 he struggled with caring for so many wounded.

I think any corpsman that served in Vietnam will say we were kids taking care of kids. We were put under the most stressful situations. I mean, when you’re an 18-year-old kid and they hand you 56 Marines and say, “Here, keep them alive if you can; the ones you can’t, we’ll just tag and bag and send them home to their mothers,’ it’s a lot of responsibility for a kid.

After days of fighting Hill 400 was secured and the engineers carved out a landing pad between Hill 400 and 484, an area that was called Mutter’s Ridge. While other units pushed on, Ron Cook’s Kilo company stayed to evacuate the wounded and regroup. It was here that the quiet English journalist, Larry Burrows, was able to take some pictures of the men.

LIFE editors didn’t initially publish this image, instead printing other pictures Burrows had taken. It wasn’t until February 1971, that LIFE published the image in an article commemorating the photographer who had recently gone missing in Laos.

Larry Burrows


[bigquote quote=”He never got in the way. He never imposed, He blended into the background. He was very quiet. That’s why they called him ‘the compassionate photographer.'” author=”Ron Cook”]

Born in 1926 London Burrows dropped out of school to take a job at LIFE when he was just 16. He worked in the British photo labs during WWII and it is often rumored that it was he who was responsible for destroying Robert Capa’s D-Day negatives. After the war he became a photojournalist and arrived in Vietnam in 1962. He hoped to cover the Vietnam War until there was peace.

On February 10, 1971, four journalists (Kent Potter 23, Keisaburo Shimamoto 34, Henri Huet 43, Larry Burrows 44) were flying in a helicopter over Laos when they were shot down. After an extensive search, they were thought lost to the jungle. LIFE’s Managing Editor, Ralph Graves, wrote about the missing pilots who he thought had surely died in the crash:

I do not think it is demeaning to any other photographer in the world for me to say that Larry Burrows was the single bravest and most dedicated war photographer I know of. He spent nine years covering the Vietnam War under conditions of incredible danger, not just at odd times but over and over again. We kept thinking up other, safer stories for him to do, but he would do them and go back to the war. As he said, the war was his story, and he would see it through. His dream was to stay until he could photograph a Vietnam at peace.

It took until April of 2008 before the helicopter wreckage and the bodies were found.

Jeremiah Purdie

Born March 22, 1931, in Newport News Jeremiah Purdie was the baby of seven children and lost his mother, Annie Purdie, due to childbirth complications when he was only 3 weeks old. At just 17-years-old he joined the Marines and even fought a few weeks in the tail end of the Korean War. He served in Vietnam until he was forced out.

I was over there three times and I won three Purple Hearts, so they had to take me out, That’s the law — three Purple Hearts and you’re out.

He left the Marines in ’68 and found his way as a district manager for a shoe chain in Sacramento, California. He moved to the New Jersey for work and met his wife, Angel, in December 1969. He wrote a book ( The Journey That Brought Me to Glory: The Black Boy, the Marine, and the Christian) and found God, after a cancer scare, becoming an ordained deacon.

He died from heart failure at the age of 74 on May 06, 2005. In early May of 2014 former U.S. Postal Service member and 66 years-old Dan King was able to visit Purdie’s grave to his goodbyes, something he always dreamed of doing. Purdie’s family and members of his local Lumbee Warriors Association were able to join him.

Getty copyright


This picture is owned by Getty by Larry Burrows

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The Milkman

Behind the camera: Fred Morley
Where: Streets of London
Photo Summary: A man carries the milk over rubble while firefighters battle the aftermath of the 32nd straight night of bombing
Picture Taken: October 9, 1940
Published October 10, 1940

During the opening years of World War II Britain was all that was left against Hitler’s military Juggernaut. France had already surrendered and continental Europe was under Germany’s control. Hitler, through a massive bombing campaign, hoped to either knock the UK out of the war or destroy its air force in preparation for invasion.  The bombing campaign starting in 1940, until Hitler withdrew his planes in preparation for the invasion of the USSR in 1941, was nicknamed the Blitz by the British and was an almost daily aerial bombardment of the United Kingdom. Many iconic photos emerged from the Blitz and the Battle of Britain.  The most famous was captured during the December 29, 1940, raid when a Daily Mail reporter snapped what at the time was called the “War’s greatest picture.” While this was the most famous, one of the more memorable photos was this Milkman Photo taken by Fred Morley on October 9, 1940, and then published the next day on October 10, 1940.

Staged Image?

Fred Morley on the right takes on Aussie, the boxing kangaroo in London's Trafalgar Square, August 31, 1931

Fred Morley on the right takes on Aussie, the boxing kangaroo in London’s Trafalgar Square

October 9th marked the 32nd day of straight bombing raids against the United Kingdom. The nighttime raid of October 9th raid infamously struck the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral but luckily the bomb did not detonate. Photographers stationed in London were amazed at the total destruction wrought by German bombers yet their pictures were routinely blocked by the censors who were anxious not to cause a panic. Fred Morley wanting to get some sort of record of the devastation out to the world thought of a situation that the censors would approve. He first found a backdrop of firefighters struggling to contain a fire then he borrowed a milkman’s outfit and a craft of bottles.  He then got his assistant to pose among the ruins of a city street while the firefighters fought in the background. The photo pushed forward the idea of the stoic British continuing on with their normal lives.  The censors felt the same way and it was published the very next day.

Fred Morley

Morley first joined Fox Photos company in January 1926 and in 1951 Fox Photos’ directors Dick Fox and Reg Salmon marked his silver jubilee with a special wristwatch for 25 years’ service with the company. Fred Morley in addition to being a celebrated photojournalist, toured the world capturing beautiful day to day life wherever he went.


Copyright Info

Copyright enquiries can be directed to Getty via Delivery After Raid by Fred Morley

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American Soldier Drinking From A Canteen

Behind the camera: W. Eugene Smith
Where: Taken during the Battle of Saipan
Photo Summary: An unshaven Angelo S. Klonis drinking from a canteen OR PFC Thomas E. Underwood of B/1/24th Marines
Picture Taken: June 27, 1944

In June of 1944 photojournalist, W. Eugene Smith was following the American troops as they fought their way across the Japanese island of Saipan. While following an elite unit of American troops he snapped a few shots of a Greek-American soldier, Angelo S. Klonis. This photo would decades later be chosen by Peter C. Bunnell, McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University as Smith’s best work. It was included in a Masters of American Photography Collectible Stamp Sheet, it went on to sell sixty million stamps.

Angelo S. Klonis

Smith took another picture of Klonis that has been used on a number of book covers including: Mammoth Book of Battles by Jon E. Lewis and The War of the World by Niall Ferguson

Smith took another picture of Klonis that has been used on a number of book covers including: Mammoth Book of Battles by Jon E. Lewis and The War of the World by Niall Ferguson

In 1936 Fifteen-year-old Angelo S. Klonis left his home in Kephallonia, Greece and stowed away on an American bound ship in hopes of a better life. Landing in L.A. California he worked his way across the country before finally settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1938. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 he felt the call of duty to serve his adopted homeland.  At first, he tried to join the Marines but was turned down because he wasn’t an American citizen, he then tried the army who accepted him into their ranks on August 10, 1942. His family says that Klonis served in multiple theaters during the war including Europe, Africa, even Norway.

Like many men of his generation, Angelo didn’t talk much about the war and after he died it fell on his son to investigate Angelo’s service. Much like James Bradly who spearheaded research into his Dad’s iconic picture at Iwo Jima Angelo S. Klonis’ son, Nick Klonis, research unearthed many secrets that Angelo had taken to the grave. Through perseverance and lots of luck Nick was able to uncover that Angelo was actually a member of an elite army unit that fought in both Europe and Pacific theaters of WWII. Incredibly Angelo S. Klonis took part in the DDay invasion on June 6, 1944 before just weeks later crossing the world to fight during the brutal Battle of Saipan (June 15 – July 9, 1944).

After the war, Angelo S. Klonis visited his family in Greece and met his future wife Angeliki (“Kiki”). They had three boys Evangelo, in 1952, Nicalaos (“Nick”) in 1954 and Demosthenes (“Demo”) in 1955 before moving back to live in Greece for 10 years before the Klonis family returned to America in 1969. In 1971 he bought a bar and named it “Evangelo’s” giving it a Polynesian style with bamboo and tiki torches, probably influenced by the time he spent in the Pacific.

Angelo S. Klonis died in 1989. While he remembers being photographed by Smith he never saw the photograph himself and only knew that it had been published while he was overseas.

Thomas E. Underwood

For decades it was accepted that the man in this photo was Angelo S. Klonis but recent research into his identity reveals that the man might be PFC Thomas E. Underwood of B/1/24th Marines. Geoffrey a researcher that documents the men of First Battalion, 24th Marines does a exhaustive two-part investigation into the man in the picture:

Underwood v. Klonis I
Underwood v. Klonis II

W. Eugene Smith

William Eugene Smith grew up in Wichita, Kansas, America. He learned the ropes of photojournalism while working for the local Wichita papers, The Wichita Eagle and The Beacon. Looking to work in the big leagues Smith moved to New York and started with Newsweek before refusing to compromise his standards he quit and joined Life Magazine in 1939. During World War II he covered many theaters of operation including the fighting in Saipan where he would take the famous picture that would eventually end up in the Masters of American Photography Collectible Stamp Sheet. In May of 1945, he was hit by Japanese fire and sent to Guam to be patched up.

After the war, he covered the plight of the working man in beautifully put together photo essays, a concept that he pioneered. His work in the UK is now seen as invaluable insights into working-class Britain. In 1955 he left LIFE magazine and joined the Magnum photo agency.

In 70s Japan, while trying to tell a story of exploitation of the locals around polluting factories he was attacked by Japanese thugs trying to prevent him from exposing Minamata disease to the world. His injuries from the attack kept him bedridden for weeks but he was still able to capture one of his most famous pictures Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath.

His war injuries plus the injuries suffered from his beating at the hands of Japanese industrialists caused him to collapse into a bitter world of pain med-addiction and self-destruction. After ending his second marriage he struggled in poverty for a few years before, on October 15, 1978, he suffered a massive stroke in a Tucson, Arizona, while he was shopping to buy cat food. He was 59 years old.

Smith’s Published Books

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Copyright to this photo is managed by Magnum American Soldier Drinking From A Canteen by W. Eugene Smith

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Elvis meets Nixon

Behind the camera: Oliver F. Atkins
Where: The Whitehouse’s Oval Office in Washington DC, America
Photo Summary: Elvis shaking Nixon’s hand in front of the Oval office’s military service flags
Picture Taken: 12:30 Meeting that lasted 30min on December 21, 1970
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, Oliver F. Atkins

Nowadays meeting between cultural icons and political leaders is an everyday occurrence with Bono getting access to the UN seemingly whenever he wants. In the ’70s suggesting that Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, and Richard Nixon, the American President could have a get together would have been met with disbelief. Yet on December 21, 1970 it happened and White House photographer, Oliver (Ollie) Atkins, captured the whole event in Black and White glory. The meeting was top secret at the time but almost a year later, on Jan. 27, 1972, the Washington Post broke the story. Soon the photo was released and it quickly became and still is one of the most requested photos from the national archives.

The Meeting


Official summary of the meeting


On the morning of December 21, 1970, a limo pulled up to the White House and one of Elvis’s bodyguards handed over a letter asking for a meeting with President Nixon. The five-page letter was written on American Airlines stationery and requested a meeting with the president to talk about Elvis obtaining the credentials of a federal agent in the war on drugs. Secret Service agents alerted Egil (Bud) Krogh, Nixon’s then-deputy assistant for domestic affairs, who was able to talk to the right people to get a meeting with the President. The time was set for 12:30 and at 11:45 Elvis was at the White House northwest gate. Krogh met Elvis and his two bodyguards, Sonny West and Jerry Schilling, and escorted them to the Oval Office reception area. Bud remembers being a little shocked when Elvis showed up wearing his rock star gear and not the usual business suits that the “normal” visiting world leaders wore. He was still impressed, though:

… in his own rock star way, he was resplendent. He was wearing tight-fitting dark velvet pants, a white silky shirt with very high collars and open to below his chest, a dark purple velvet cape, a gold medallion, and heavy silver-plated amber-tinted designer sunglasses with “EP” built into the nose bridge. Around his waist was a belt with a huge four-inch by six-inch gold belt buckle with a complex design I couldn’t make out without embarrassing myself. . . This was a time in sartorial history when gold chains festooned the necks of many of the more style-conscious men in our society. — Bud Krogh


The national archives have a travelling exhibit of the Elvis and Nixon meeting and some of the items they display are Elvis and Nixon’s clothes. In addition to the huge gold plated belt buckle, they have Elvis’s black velvet overcoat and black leather boots. For Nixon, they have the gray woollen suit, tie, and the size 11½ black shoes.

This was one of many pictures taken by Oliver Atkins, for more pictures go to the photo gallery of the meeting. Elvis had actually requested the meeting because, ironically, he was concerned about America’s drug problem:

Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House - Dec 21 1970

Nixon and Elvis colorized by the talented Marina Amaral ( @marinamaral2 )

I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good … The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do NOT consider me as their enemy or as they call it The Establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help The Country out. I have no concern or Motives other than helping the country out.
So I wish not to be given a title or an appointed position. I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way through my communications with people of all ages. — Elvis’s Letter to the President

In less than seven years Elvis would die at the age of 42 from prescription drug abuse and heart disease (although he never officially sought any sort of drug addiction help) As shown in his letter, Elvis was trying to gain an official title and badge. While he usually carried himself with the confidence that the KING of rock roll would Krogh remembers that even Elvis was awed by being in the Oval Office, “I think he was just awed by where he found himself. I ended up having to help him walk across over to the president’s desk.
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Nixon is admiring the cufflinks given to Elvis by Vice-President, Spiro Agnew.


Elvis brought a number of things to the meeting including other badges and credentials from other drug agencies, some pictures of his daughter and a present for Mr. Nixon, a World War II-era Colt 45. (The gun is now on display at the Richard Nixon Library) Nixon politely heard out Elvis’s case and did end up giving him the badge he asked for.
In a summary of the meeting created by Krogh for the President, he noticed that Elvis seemed quite emotional about being on Nixon’s side. He also expressed his concern about how the Beatles were a bad influence on the country. In the meeting summary, Krogh wrote that Elvis said that the Beatles came “to this country, made their money, and then returned to England where they promoted an anti-American theme. The President nodded in agreement and expressed some surprise.”

As the 30min was about to wrap up Elvis in a spontaneous moment gave Nixon a hug and told him how much he supported him. Just before he was about to leave Elvis asked if it would be OK if Nixon could meet his bodyguards, which Nixon agree to do.

Nixon meeting Elvis's bodyguards

Nixon meeting Elvis's bodyguards, Sonny West on the left and Jerry Schilling on the right


Years later Krogh would look back and recall that Elvis had probably just wanted the badge to complete his collection, “Oh man, we were set up! But it was fun, said Krogh. “He said all the right words about trying to do the right thing and I took him at his word, but I think he clearly wanted to get a badge and he knew the only way he was going to get it.

The photographer, Oliver F. (Ollie) Atkins, would later die of cancer, in Washington, Virginia, January 24, 1977.

The Flags Behind the King and President

In the background, you can see the Oval office’s military service flags from each division of the Armed Forces. From left to right are the US Indoor/Parade versions of the Army, Marines, Navy, AirForce, and US Coast Guard. Below are the flags as they appear stretched out, note that the oval office flags are the indoor parade versions and as such have gold tassels surrounding them.

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James Dean in Times Square


Behind the camera: Dennis Stock
Where: Walking the streets of Times Square, New York
Photo Summary: James Dean walking in the rain in Times Square New York
Picture Taken: February 1955

James Dean’s fate as an iconic movie star would be guaranteed after this photo was published in a 1955 LIFE magazine issue. Only a few months later the star would die in a car crash out west. His image as a rebellious angst-ridden star would be forever sealed by his death.

Taking the picture

The photographer, Dennis Stock, had met James Dean in New York where the two talked and agreed to work together. Stock was at first hesitant about the shoot. But after Jimmy, Dennis always insisted on calling him James Dean Jimmy, invited him to a sneak premiere to Dean’s film, East of Eden, Stock was sold on the collaboration. In an interview to PBS remembers,

“As was customary in my business, I would solicit an assignment guarantee to cover expenses. The obvious magazine to approach was Life. If I was assigned to the Life editors, we could set up a schedule for visiting Indiana and New York. We further agreed that I would have the first exclusive rights to the picture story on Jimmy.”

Stock also recalled that Dean, perhaps pushing his star power too far, made some conditions on the photo shoot. He wanted a cover guarantee and an agreement that his friend to do the accompanying write-up. Stock recalls,

It was an unusual and highly egocentric gesture. I said I’d pass the request on to the editors. It was a foolhardy demand, which I never conveyed to the magazine, gambling on our growing friendship to keep the assignment afloat. I told Jimmy the editor’s answer was no. For days he acted like a spoiled kid, and then finally came around, making it possible for us to leave for Fairmount the first week in February, 1955.

They went to Fairmount to cover his small town Midwest childhood then went to New York to capture his budding movie stardom. In Fairmount they shot a number of interesting shots including one with a large hog. While Dean was agreeable in his hometown but in New York Dennis found the movie star to be grumpy and difficult to work with. Apparently, the night before the Times Square shot Dean’s insomnia had hit and the idea to take pictures in the cold wet and miserable weather took some convincing by the photographer. The photo essay titled, Moody new star, was published in the March 7, 1955, issue of LIFE magazine. On pg 128 this image was published with the caption:

Walking in Rain, Dean wanders anonymously down the middle of New York’s Times Square. His top-floor garret on Manhattan’s West Side is no more home to him, he says, than the farm in Indiana. But he feels that his continuing attempt to find out just where he belongs is the source of his strength as an actor.

James Dean


James Dean died at the young age of 24 on September 30, 1955, in a horrible car crash at the junction of highways 46 and 41 in California. His image of a rebel was created in one his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause. His other two movie roles, loner Cal Trask in East of Eden, and as the surly farmer Jett Rink in Giant only supported this rebel image. Cited as an actor with great talent his death guaranteed that we would only see this side of talent. In death, he was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only person to have two posthumous acting nominations.

Dennis Stock

The New York native Stock joined the navy at the young age of 16 to fight in World War II. After the war, he studied photography and in 1951 won the first prize in the Life young photographers competition. Catching the eye of famed photographer Robert Capa he was invited to become an associate member of Magnum, Stock had early assignments in Paris before he began shooting the Hollywood scene. Over the years he published a number of collections about the American jazz scene. He died on Jan. 11, 2010 from colon cancer in Sarasota, Florida. He was 81.

Copyright info


Copyright to this photo is managed by Magnum: James Dean in Times Square by Dennis Stock

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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.
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Robert Doisneau


Robert Doisneau became one of Frances 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.” Which 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 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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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 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.
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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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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.”
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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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