The email arrived at 4.48pm :
Our beautiful Douglas died last night like a gentleman, like the Prince he was, quietly calmly at home with myself, two friends and Sonny Boy our dog.
I am heart broken.
I don’t have have words for the magnitude of the loss.
Douglas Kirkland is dead, one of the last giants of American photography.
A being of exceptional kindness and modesty, the Photographer of cinema and the stars of the last century.
Douglas, the image enthusiast and his wife Françoise, are one of the most wonderful couples there is.
On this very sad day, there was only one image to open this edition. The one that Françoise and Douglas sent us this past february to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is titled : “Françoise et Douglas Kirkland – L’Amour toujours”. They are walking, holding hands in this heavenly field. It was shot many moons ago, it could have been yesterday, but if only it could be next summer.
Through the years, many times we featured the photographs of this prolific artist, today’s special edition is dedicated to him build from our archives.
Jeff Dunas, their friend, wrote this tribute.
A LIFE IN PICTURES
Tonight we lost a veritable legend. Legendary in the sense that Douglas Kirkland was a living monument in the realm of photography. Legendary in that many of his images are not simply famous of famous people, they have come to embody the subjects of his photographs themselves. Who hasn’t seen the unforgettable images of Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Coco Channel, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Deitrich, Kathryn Hepburn, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Ann-Margret, Natalie Wood, Catherine Deneuve as well as contemporary stars Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, and hundreds of others? Who could forget his pictures of Charlie Chaplin, Peter O’Toole, Paul Newman, Marcello Mastroianni, Michael Caine, Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio; musicians Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, Bjork, Michael Jackson and so many more, all in their prime and all by the number one photographer on the speed dials of editors and publishers, movie producers, museum and gallery curators and advertising agencies throughout the world?
The sheer number of talented and remarkable public figures to have stepped before his camera is very possibly unparalleled in the medium of photography.
Great directors trusted him to make the startling and iconic photographs of the actors of the many of the most epic films of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Douglas Kirlkand was the special photographer of countless motion pictures (over 100) including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Sound of Music, Sophie’s Choice, The Great Gatsby, Out of Africa, Titanic and Moulin Rouge!.
In the photography world we’ve lost a champion, a prolific photographer’s photographer, a man both dynamic, dignified and humble, a true friend and inspiration, someone who was a comrade, a colleague and a friend to so many. Always encouraging, always available to meet or talk. A mentor, a fan, always willing to, as the saying in French goes, nous renvoyer l’ascenseur (help us all on our journeys). His great passion for photography was enduring and knew no bounds.
His work has been collected in 10 remarkable monographs, many published throughout the world in multiple languages. His photography resides in the collections of many prestigious institutions including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Smithsonian, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra Australia, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Eastman House Museum in Rochester, the Houston Center for Photography and the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.
In September of 2008, Vanity Fair Italy organized a retrospective of his work at the Museum of the Triennale in Milan. He is a member of the prestigious Canon’s Legends and as well an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers. Some of the awards he has received include a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the American Society of Operating Cameramen (S.O.C.), 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 April 2006. In February 2011, the American Society of Cinematographers ASC presented him with the prestigious President’s Award. In the summer of 2015, he received a special Nastri D’Argento (Silver Ribbon) 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 September 2017. In Toronto, 2019, CAFA (Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards) gave him an outstanding achievement award for his career in photography.
Born in 1934 in Toronto, Douglas was raised in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada and in 1960 at the young age of 26, became a staff photographer at Look Magazine and later, Life Magazine. His photographs have appeared in literally thousands of publications throughout the world.
Husband to his wonderful and dynamic wife and partner, Francoise father to animation director Mark Kirkland, daughters Karen and Lisa and grandfather to Jamie, Chad, Ryan, Patrick, Anna Sophia and great grandfather to Madison.
Douglas Kirkland has left an impossible void to fill in both his personal and professional lives and his boundless joie de vivre, warmth and passion will be missed by a long line of wonderful and meaningful friendships.
Director, Palm Springs Photo Festival