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Remembering Douglas Kirkland Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

4 October 2022

Douglas Kirkland, who photographed the stars of Hollywood, has died at the age of 88.

Kirkland was born in Toronto and raised in Fort Erie, Ontario.

When he was 24, Kirkland was hired as a staff photographer for Look magazine where he became famous for his 1961 photos of Marilyn Monroe taken for the magazine's 25th anniversary issue.

He was 27 years old at the time. A year later, Monroe would be found dead in her Brentwood home.

He later joined the staff of Life magazine where he would photograph everyone who was anyone or wanted to be in Tinsel Town.

Among the legends whose portrait he captured were Audrey Hepburn, Jack Nicholson, Coco Chanel, Judy Garland, Marlene Deitrich, John Lennon and Margot Kidder.

He worked as a special photographer on more than 150 films including 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Sound of Music, Sophie's Choice, Out of Africa, The Pirate Movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Romancing the Stone, Titanic and Moulin Rouge.

His book Titanic (1998) became the first photography book to top the New York Times Best Seller list. In both the hardback and paperback editions.

He also lectured at the Smithsonian Institution, the AFI Conservatory in Hawaii and Los Angeles, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena as well as the Kodak Centers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

In September of 2008, Vanity Fair Italy organized a retrospective of his work at the Museum of the Triennale in Milan.

He was a member of the Canon's Legends and as well an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Operating Cameramen, The World Press Photo Award For Arts and Entertainment, a Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment Photography in 2003, The Golden Eye of Russia in 2006.

In 2011, the American Society of Cinematographers ASC presented him with its President's Award. In 2015, he received a Nastri D'Argento at the International Taormina Film Festival. The Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles presented him with the Award of Excellence in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding accomplishments in 2017. In Toronto, 2019, the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards gave him an outstanding achievement award for his career in photography.

That Click, a film about his life was made in 2020.

Washington D.C.-based photojournalist Dave Burnett paid tribute to his lifelong friend on a Facebook post:

In your life, if you are lucky, you'll meet a few people along the way who convince you, by their mere indelible, sympatique presence, that youth is something that never goes away. You don't always know immediately that this certain person might be that beacon of hope, energy and a youthful life, but once I'd gotten to know Douglas Kirkland, some 40 plus years ago, I well understood that he was one of those people.

Though I had known him and his work by reputation, it was only when I spent time with him that I realized how special he was and why he was a kind of an eternal essence of light -- in Hollywood and elsewhere -- for both the famous and not-yet-famous, always bringing his youthful energy to seeing something wonderful through his lens. Douglas passed away today, striking one of those hard to accept moments, when someone you feel will always be there, always bring that smile so soft yet sincere, always gift you his unassuming presence, always remind you that there will be one more picture to take, one more moment of delicate joy. Adieu mon vieux, it was just an honor to know you.

Big hugs to C╠žoise and the many, many friends whose lives just got a little bit tinier.


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