Ron Galella was the first American paparazzo, and probably the most infamous paparazzo of his day. He captured Elvis Prestley, Sophia Loren, Bruce Springsteen, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, Robert Redford and Frank Sinatra on his camera, although none of them have posed for him. Brigitte Bardot hosed him down. Sean Penn spat at him. Richard Burton’s thugs beat him up. But Ron Galella remained unfazed. After Marlon Brando broke his jaw, he returned to take photos of Brandon wearing a football helmet.
Galella’s favorite and long suffering target was Jackie Kennedy Onassis. In the late 60s, when Jackie O. was living in New York, Galella bribed many doormen and chauffeurs to follow the former First Lady. Taken on October 7, 1971 as Jackie turned towards a taxi horn with a smile on Madison Avenue, the above photo was considered as Galella’s masterpiece. Jackie’s two high profile courtcases with Galella not only gave Galella notoriety, but also kept Jackie alive in the public eye. A retrospective film on Galella’s life was titled “Smash His Camera,” so-named for an utterance Onassis once made to a member of her Secret Service detail.
Jackie Kennedy would get into more trouble only a few months later when the pictures of her sunbathing nude and practising yoga on Onassis’s private island Skorpios. Hearing a rumour that Mrs Onassis sunbathed nude on one of the beaches, Italian paparazzo Settimio Garritano sneaked onto the beach and took the pictures. Many editors refused to publish them, but they eventually appeared in the Italian magazine Playmen in 1972. Reaction in the United States was critical, but when the pictures were eventually published in the Hustler, it became the best ever selling edition of magazine. So much for morality.
In the end it seems every one was fine with it. In his book Sex, Lies & Politics: The Naked Truth, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt referred to the snapshots as “the smartest investment of my life.” Aristotle Onassis was unperturbed: “Sometimes I take my clothes off to put on a bathing suit. So does my wife,” leading to accusations (by the AP no less) that he himself got a paparazzi to take pictures of his wife skinny-dipping. Jackie herself probably enjoyed this sort of exposure. Otherwise it was baffling as to why she would go and sunbathe nude on a beach where she had been stalked by paparazzi before. Believe it or not, her autographed nude photo was found in the archives of Andy Warhol, of all places!
I don’t want to link to the photos, but if you really must they are somewhere around here.