Photographer Ron Galella dies at 91

Paparazzi pioneer Ron Galella, nicknamed ‘Paparazzo Extraordinaire’ and the ‘Godfather’ of the industry, passed away on Saturday.

The photographer — who clashed with celebrities like Jacqueline Onassis and Marlon Brando — died at his home in Montville, New Jersey at age 91 of congestive heart failure, according to the New York Times.

Galella’s passing was confirmed by Geoffrey Croft, who edited Galella’s most recent book 100 Iconic Photographs – A Retrospective.

RIP: Paparazzi pioneer Ron Galella, nicknamed ‘Paparazzo Extraordinaire’ and the ‘Godfather’ of the industry, passed away on Saturday

Collision: The photographer — who clashed with celebrities such as Jacqueline Onassis and Marlon Brando — died at his home in Montville, New Jersey at age 91 of congestive heart failure, according to the New York Times

Collision: The photographer — who clashed with celebrities such as Jacqueline Onassis and Marlon Brando — died at his home in Montville, New Jersey at age 91 of congestive heart failure, according to the New York Times

Born in New York City in January 1931, Galella began his photography career as a United States Air Force photographer from 1951 to 1955, including a stint in the Korean War.

After his time in the military, he attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, graduating in 1958 with a degree in photojournalism.

He began taking pictures of celebrities at movie premieres and selling them to publications such as National Enquirer in the early 1960s, long before paparazzi photographers became ubiquitous at such events.

Stint: Galella was born in New York City in January 1931 and began his photography career as a United States Air Force photographer from 1951 to 1955, including a stint in the Korean War

Stint: Galella was born in New York City in January 1931 and began his photography career as a United States Air Force photographer from 1951 to 1955, including a stint in the Korean War

His work was soon despised by celebrities for taking their photos without permission, and a judge in the late 1960s called him one of the worst, “two-bit chisels and fixers.”

He literally hid in bushes or parked cars, sometimes even bribing doormen or limousine drivers for the shots he needed.

Galella is perhaps best known for his incessant pursuit of Jaqueline Onassis, which even led to a nearly decade-long legal battle.

Two-bit: His work was soon despised by celebrities for taking their photos without permission, with a judge in the late 1960s calling him one of the worst, “two-bit chisels and fixers.”

Onassis sued Galella in 1972, claiming the photographer made her life “unbearable, almost unlivable, with his constant surveillance,” while claiming he had a right to earn a living taking these photos.

As a result, a judge issued a restraining order prohibiting Galella from being 25 feet from Jackie O and 10 feet from her children.

He was found guilty of breaking that warrant four times over the next decade, for which he received more than seven years in prison and a $120,000 fine.

Sued: Onassis sued Galella in 1972, claiming that the photographer made her life “unacceptable, almost unlivable, with his constant surveillance,” while claiming he had a right to earn a living taking these photos

He would eventually settle for a $10,000 fine and waive his rights to photograph Jackie and her children.

Galella admitted in the 2010 documentary Smash His Camera (the title of which is taken from Jackie O’s instructions to a security guard) that he was “obsessed” with the former First Lady.

‘I didn’t have a girlfriend. She was my friend in a way,” Galella said in the documentary.

Obsessed: Galella admitted in the 2010 documentary Smash His Camera (the title of which is taken from Jackie O’s instructions to a security guard) that he was “obsessed” with the former First Lady

He was also punched in the face by Marlon Brando in 1972 after following him outside a New York City restaurant, and he sued the actor, who ended up settling for $40,000.

Galella also had controversial encounters with celebrities such as Richard Burton, Elvis Presley, whose guards slashed his tires, and Sean Penn, who beat him while shooting the actor with his then-wife Madonna.

Despite hatred for his methods, the photos themselves have often been critically acclaimed and have appeared in publications such as Time, Life, People and The National Enquirer.

Photos: Despite the hatred for his methods, the photos themselves have often been critically acclaimed and have appeared in publications such as Time, Life, People and The National Enquirer

Photos: Despite the hatred for his methods, the photos themselves have often been critically acclaimed and have appeared in publications such as Time, Life, People and The National Enquirer

Galella has published 22 photo books and his work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, with Andy Warhol calling him his favorite photographer.

He married Betty Lou Burke in 1979, who worked as a photo editor for Today Is Sunday before becoming his business partner until her death in 2017.

Galella is survived by his brother Vincent and many cousins ​​as well as great-nieces and nephews.

Books: Galella has published 22 photo books and his work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, with Andy Warhol calling him his favorite photographer

Books: Galella has published 22 photo books and his work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, with Andy Warhol calling him his favorite photographer

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