Author: Ron Galella
Format: Hardback, 19.7x25 cm, 160 pages
100 Iconic Photographs - A retrospective by Ron Galella
Published in the United States of America by Ron Galella, Ltd.
Distributed in Europe by Sime srl
Over my five-plus-decades long career, I have taken millions of photographs of every conceivable type of celebrity – film, television and music stars, super models, athletes, politicians, business moguls, artists, socialites and innovators. Today these photos continue to be published and broadcast globally in news, film, entertainment magazines and books as well as collected at home and abroad. (Not bad for an Italian American kid from a working-class family raised in the Bronx!)
Recently, I set out on the daunting task of highlighting my most iconic photos. A truly iconic photograph is timeless – something that is valued, honored and treasured long after the photo was taken. It’s also an image that represents a particular event from our past, a literal snapshot of a moment in time. I had to consider several points: the timeless nature of each image, including generations born after the moment, its cultural significance, historical and/or emotional connections. Does it represent a moment we will never see again, and can it be enjoyed forever by future generations? Are these photographs “unforgettable?”
This led me right away to my first and most obvious choice, “Windblown Jackie.” My own Mona Lisa!
Luck, skill and quick thinking all played a role in capturing my most famous photograph! Taken in 1971, this image has withstood the test of time. It has been sold hundreds of times all over the world and is still purchased universally and collected by museums and fine-art photography lovers worldwide. In fact, in 2016 Time Magazine honored this photograph by proclaiming it as one of “The Most Influential Photos of all Time.”
My second choice (this book’s cover) is my photo of Mick Jagger and John Lennon (with May Pang) taken at the American Film Institute Salute to James Cagney, during Lennon’s infamous eighteen-month “Lost Weekend” period without Yoko Ono.
Other photos include Andy Warhol at the Bronx Zoo, Elvis Presley leaving the Philadelphia Hilton surrounded by his bodyguards and the ever-cool actor, Steve McQueen, in Jamaica just off the set of his Oscar nominated 1973 film, “Papillon.”
As time passed, I soon understood that being approachable and following my gut instinct was the key to my success. My journey led me to an unforeseen and unexpected conclusion: each personality’s reaction to me produced an even more intimate and deeply thought-out final selection. Add in a little bit of chutzpah, hubris and humor and I realized that my interactions with my subjects paved a way beyond anything I could have ever imagined, creating a unique niche in the world of entertainment photojournalism.
I was fortunate to capture the following selection of photographs during my golden years, a time when film cameras were prominent, and photographers were not so everpresent. So many of my photographs are exclusive and come as a result of a combination of perseverance, hard work and love with a splash of good luck.
The choices were hard, at times painstaking and time-consuming and even surprising, but with a little help from my diligent staff and a few others I finally arrived at 100! I thoroughly enjoyed this excursion down memory lane. Sometimes tearful, sometimes joyful, sometimes bittersweet; but as you leaf through this book I hope to pass along my passion for photography and the dedication it took to capture these decisive moments,which I hope, will endure for all time…snapped in my unique, spontaneous and offguard style–the paparazzi approach!
RON GALELLA, “PAPA RAZO EXTRAORDINAIRE”
Widely regarded as the most famous and most controversial celebrity photographer in the world–he’s been dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek and “The Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time and Vanity Fair–Galella has endured two highly publicized court battles with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, a broken jaw at the hands of Marlon Brando, and a serious beating by Richard Burton’s bodyguards before being jailed in Cuernavaca, Mexico. But ultimately, it is his passion for the fine art of photography, coupled with a dedicated do-it-yourself approach to his craft–few artists can claim his level of skill in making their own prints–that sees Ron’s body of work exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the world. The Museum of Modern Art New York and San Francisco, the Tate Modern in London and the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Photography in Berlin, among many others, all maintain collections of Galella’s iconic works.
Ron’s passion for photojournalism has also given rise to many highly acclaimed photoart books, including Disco Years, which was honored as Best Photography Book of 2006 by The New York Times. In 2010, Galella made the transition to moving film with “Smash His Camera”, a documentary of his life and career by Oscar-winning director Leon Gast (“When We Were Kings”, 1996).
Tantamount to his recognition at home and in Northern Europe, the government of Basilicata graciously honored Ron–whose father, Vincenzo, was born in Muro Lucano, Italy–by making him an honorary citizen of the Italian region in 2009.
A native New Yorker now residing in Montville, New Jersey, Ron served as a United States Air Force photographer during the Korean conflict before attending the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he earned a degree in Photojournalism. Galella married the love of his life, Betty Burke, in April of 1979. Sadly, in 2017, she passed away peacefully in her sleep.