Friday, March 1

The eventful life of Ron Galella, the paparazzo who was punched by Marlon Brando and Jackie Kennedy brought to trial


Ron Galella
Ron GalellaGetty
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Although the paparazzi emerged during the sweet life In the late 1950s, the term became popular worldwide when the magazine Time echoed by these street photographers in the article Paparazzi on the Prawl en su nmero of 14 de abril de 1961. In Italy despuntaron Marcello Gepetti, Elio Sorci, Rino Barillari or Tazio Secchiarolli, but In the United States it did not take long for the first king of the paparazzi to emerge Outside the transalpine country, Ron Galella, who after working as a photojournalist during the Korean War chose to dust off the halo that hovered over the most notable celebrities of the 20th century.

The hunter of intimacies has just turned 91 with his great-granddaughter Sammi, 9, who shares the same anniversary day. Galella’s busy life has been the subject of retrospectives, documentaries, books and a host of cultural products that reflect an industry that moves billions of euros annually. Despite having traveled all over the world, Galella found her gold mine in Hollywood and, above all, in New York, where he portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy on countless occasions.

The former American First Lady wanted to live anonymously and tooth and nail preserved the privacy of her children Caroline and John, until the paparazzo American became his shadow. He was so fed up that Jackie took him to court twice for harassment and invasion of privacy. In 1969 he managed to get away with published images of the celebrity with his youngster riding a bike through Central Park, but in 1971 Jackie won the battle. The sentence became final: He couldn’t get close to her and her children within 150 feet. The most iconic photo that Galella took of Kennedy and Onassis’ doubly widow was when she immortalized her from a taxi while she was walking down Madison Avenue, with her hair blowing in the wind covering part of her face and with a half smile. Galella calls this photo ‘My Mona Lisa’.

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His lens has captured some of the scenes that are part of the history of photography and, therefore, of the heart press. There’s Elvis Presley surrounded by handsome, burly bodyguards; Andy Warhol posing before elephants in a zoo after meeting him by chance on the little train that runs through the park; He captured Robert Redford’s youth and handsome tan in his aviator sunglasses that have been the cover of one of his books; I discovered the romance between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, who did not hesitate to cover himself with his hands; considers Paul McCartney one of the simplest celebrities in the world and Elizabeth Taylor was his second obsession after Jackie Kennedy.

He has had serious altercations with celebrities. Marlon Brando took such a punch who fractured his jaw and knocked out several teeth, so when he returned to meet the protagonist of A streetcar named desire (1951) he protected his head with a helmet; Richard Burton’s bodyguards mistreated him in Cuernavaca before spending the night in prison; Bob Dylan called him a murderer on the way out of a concert in West Hollywood, “I carry a camera, not a gun”, nuance the paparazzo. Greta Garbo, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Muhammad Ali, among others, also passed before his gaze.

His social influence has been such that his works have hung on the walls of the most prestigious museums and galleries in the world, such as the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Berlin Photography. The eventful life of the iconic photographer is explained in the documentary Smash his camera (Destroy His Camera), awarded at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival by Robert Redford, which takes its title from the expression Onassis shouted every time he saw him on the streets.

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