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Schiller speaks on photographing JFK, other celebrities

Lawrence Schiller curated an exhibit featuring photos of former president Kennedy and other celebrities, currently on display in the Marshall Fredericks Museum Vanguard Photos | Jolie Wyse

Lawrence Schiller, the curator of and featured photographer in the exhibit “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s (JFK) Life and Times” spoke on Thursday, March 21, in the Malcolm Field Theatre. He recalled stories from Kennedy’s life, campaign and assassination.

Schiller told stories from his life, beginning with describing where he was when JFK was assassinated. He recalled rushing to Dallas from California with other members of the media. On the third floor of the Dallas Police Department, photographers and journalists gathered to tell the world who shot JFK.

“I was only three and a half feet from the elevator when Oswald came out,” Schiller said. “What eventually stuck in my mind was … right in front of me was a man, a boy my age, two years younger than me that had committed this act of antisocial behavior.”

Years down the road, Schiller became the official campaign photographer of Bobby Kennedy. Schiller was privileged to know the Kennedys at a level beyond what the public saw. Schiller met and photographed celebrities like Marylin Monroe, Barbara Streisand and OJ Simpson.

Not only did he meet celebrities, but he also met important members of history and covered what now are defining moments in America’s history.

“It was especially wild in the golden age of journalism,” Schiller said, “where I shot 400 rolls of film on stories and it was 18 years until I looked at all the pictures.”

Schiller went on to describe Simpson’s trial and his involvement with Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s friend and defense attorney. Schiller photographed Simpson in his home after he was acquitted for the deaths of his wife and her friend.

Since then, Schiller has taken on directing films about historical events and creating photography books. His next project is to create a book and exhibit for Ray Bradberry’s centennial.

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