By: Frank Eltman, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Harry Harris, a celebrated Associated Press photographer who captured images of the U.S. First Army marching across Europe in World War II, President Kennedy lying in state, and Hank Aaron hitting his record-breaking 715th home run, has died. He was 88.
Harris, who worked for the AP for nearly a half century until his retirement in 1978, died Tuesday at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital on Long Island after a brief illness, said his granddaughter, Michelle Abramson.
“Harry was one of the icons in the profession,” said Joe DeMaria, president of the New York Press Photographers Association, which Harris also served as president. “The guy was absolutely phenomenal. Anything he did, he did with 150%.”
“60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney said that during World War II, Harris “was always quite popular with the guys.” He remembered a brawl between Ernest Hemingway and another reporter that Harris broke up inside a hotel room in Rambouillet, France.
“Here’s Harris, who stood about 5-5, in between these two guys, putting his hands on their chests,” Rooney said. “I still laugh about it when I think about it today. He was really trying to be the peacemaker.”
Marty Lederhandler, an AP photographer who recently retired after 66 years, remembered Harris as an outstanding sports photographer. “He covered the World Series for many years. He had some great pictures,” Lederhandler said. “I learned a lot from Harry; I was his messenger for a while. He was a big help to me.”
Hal Buell, the AP’s former executive newsphoto editor, agreed that Harris was “a first class sports photographer,” but recalled a shot that he took after President Kennedy was assassinated.
“Harry noticed that inside the rotunda of the Capitol, there was a statue of Lincoln overlooking Kennedy’s casket,” Buell said. “Now, photos were not permitted inside. But Harry, being Harry, gets inside, gets to the right spot and clicks off the shutter. A guard hears the shutter go off and throws him out.
“Now he gets back to the newsroom and finds out that because the room was so dark, the shot was too dark. The editor tells Harry he’s got to go back and do it again. Harry goes back and gets the shot again, this time with a slower shutter speed and wider aperture, and the guard catches him again. Only this time he gets an incredible photo of Lincoln looking down on Kennedy’s casket.”
Harris, who won numerous awards from NYPPA, was given the Randolph Hearst Award as “Photographer of the Year” in 1965.
He is survived by his wife, Lynn, a son, Michael, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.