Ron Galella, an American photographer, and Bronx native has had his photographs in exhibitions in galleries and museums all over the world. San Francisco, New York, London and Berlin are among the cities where his work has been displayed.
Readers from around the globe have at one time or another have images of Ron Galella's camera embedded in their memory. His photography has appeared in major publications such as, Time, Rolling Stone, Life, People, Vogue, Vanity Fair and countless others.
Ron Galella is known for getting the perfect shot, even if it meant risks were involved. Getting the most extraordinary shot has gained the photographer notoriety by receiving blows, lawsuits and punches by some well-known famous people, and at times, by their security personnel.
Chinatown saw Galella's jaw punched by Marlon Brando, had his tires slashed by Elvis Presley's security detail while Elvis was in Queens, New York. Still, Ron got the shot.
His obsession with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis landed him a lawsuit and a restraining order, it is reported he violated the terms of the restraining order several times. Galella was ordered to keep 150 feet away from Onassis and her children.
The restraining order was issued in the now famous 1972 Free Speech trial, Galella v. Onassis.
It was only after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passing that her son, John Kennedy Jr. allowed himself to photographed by the Godfather of the U.S. paparazzi culture, so named by Time Magazine.
In an interview, Galella is quoted as saying, “Marlon Brando knocked five teeth out of my mouth in 1973 when I asked him to take his sunglasses off." Galella further added, “One of my teeth was embedded in his hand which became infected. He has scars to this day.”
Aside from getting sued by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and on the receiving end of Bridget Bardot's bodyguards hosing him down with water, many cannot forget his own image captured following Marlon Brando, wearing a football helmet.
Certainly this was definitely an idea as a protective measure to keep from getting punched again.
After numerous lawsuits and countersuits as notorious paparazzo Ron Galella and Jackie Kennedy Onassis faced off in federal court.
The New York Times reported that spectators lined up every morning for seats at the five-week trial that ended March 23, 1972. The Times declared it “the best off-Broadway show in town.” Saying that he was a photojournalist with a First Amendment right to photograph any public figure, Galella complained that she was interfering with his livelihood. Although Onassis denied it in court, Galella testified that she told her Secret Service detail to “smash his camera.”
She said he terrorized her and her children, relentlessly invading their privacy. But she always kept a “Galella smile” on her face.
“I try to keep smiling, to keep my head up, to be as normal as possible,” she explained, “Because I believe he wants to provoke me into an unusual position.”
After the judge ordered Galella to stay 50 yards away from Onassis and 75 yards from her children, he appealed, ending up with a 25-foot rule, one he admits he violated “a hundred times.” Another decade of legal wrangling would ensue before—facing jail and a $120,000 fine—he agreed never to photograph them again.
“I admit that I was obsessed with her because I loved photography and she was a great subject,” Galella says. The iconic “Windblown Jackie,” shot from a taxi in the fall of 1971, is his favorite.
“I call that shot my Mona Lisa shot, where it has all the qualities of the paparazzi approach, which is the off-guard, spontaneous picture,” Galella says.
Latest News About Ron Galella
Published on Friday
The Spanish photo festival teams up with luxury house Loewe for a retrospective on the celebrity snapper's collected work since the 1960s
Text by Charlotte Davey
Documentary - Smash His Camera
Smash His Camera is a 2010 documentary film directed by filmmaker Leon Gast about the life and career of paparazi photographer Ron Galella. In early 2010, the film won "Best Director" of a documentary at the Sundance Film Festival began a limited U.S. theatrical release on 30 July 2010 through Magnolia Pictures, shown on HBO.
Watch the HBO documentary trailer here:
A list of exhibits for the photography of Ron Galella: