[JPL] Death of William Gottlieb, renowned jazz photographer

Lee Mergner lmergner at jazztimes.com
Mon Apr 24 08:54:12 EDT 2006

>From Ed Gottlieb, son of William Gottlieb:
My father, William P. Gottlieb, died at home today. I am attaching a
brief biography which is mostly copied from his website,
www.jazzphotos.com. A more extensive bio with photographs can be found
on the Library of Congress website:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wghtml/wgbio.html. Though he is best known
as a world renowned photographer of jazz musicians he had many other
notable achievements in his life. Please feel free to call us if you
need additional information or a photo of Bill. We can be reached at:
(516) 466-0495. 
Thank you. Ed Gottlieb for the Gottlieb family. 
Born: Feb. 28, 1917 Married Delia Potofsky in 1939 (married 66 years)
Beloved by: wife Delia; children Barbara, Steven, Richard, Edward &
spouses Teri & Jacki; sister-in-law Jacqueline; grandchildren Leah,
Sara, Brian, Jason,Celia, & Noah; and great grandchildren Evan, Lily, &
Enzo. Memorial Service will be held on Friday, April 28th at 11:00 at
Riverside-Nassau North Chapels, 55 North Station Plaza, Great Neck, NY.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Jazz Musician
Emergency Fund c/o Jazz Foundation of America 3rd Floor 322 West 48th
Street New York, NY 10036 Email: pledge at jazzfoundation.org Although he
hasn't photographed jazz people in more than 50 years, Bill Gottlieb, in
a 1990 Issue of Modern Photography, was called "The Great Jazz
Photographer." The New York Times credits Bill with "the flair of a high
artist." The New Yorker said, "Gottlieb stopped photographing jazz
musicians in 1948. No one has surpassed him yet." Bill first used a
camera in 1939 to illustrate his pioneering weekly jazz column, "Swing
Sessions", in the Washington Post. He was paid for the writing, not the
photography, and since the film, flash bulbs, and cameras (Speed
Graphics and Rolleis) were bulky and expensive, he typically made only
three or four exposures a session (all taken "on location"). So he
learned to shoot very carefully. The photography paid off, it enhanced
his column, later helped him become an Air Force photo officer in WWII,
then clinched an editor's job on Down Beat Magazine (though he was still
not paid for his photos). Bill left the jazz scene in 1948 to produce
educational filmstrips, eventually as president of University
Films/McGraw-Hill. He also wrote and illustrated 16 books, mostly for
children. One of his GOLDEN BOOKS, "Laddie the Superdog" sold more than
one million copies. Upon retiring from McGraw-Hill in 1979, Bill
published his old jazz photos as The Golden Age of Jazz. The New York
Times predicted that Bill also "seems to be entering the golden age of
William P. Gottlieb." How prescient! His jazz images have since appeared
on more than 350 record album and CD covers, on two dozen posters, and a
like number of postcards and T-shirts. They have been in hundreds of
books, magazines, calendars, TV documentaries, and even in major motion
pictures as background atmosphere or used to recreate a historic site.
Meanwhile, exhibitions of the prints have appeared in more than 160
venues,from the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm,Sweden, to the Navio
Museum in Osaka, Japan. The Golden Age of Jazz is now in it's 13th
printing. Some of Bill's photos,starting with Duke Ellington, were
acquired by the National Portrait Gallery: and his images are the basis
of four US Postage Stamps. In 1997, the New Jersey Jazz Society honored
him as the non-musician who did the most for jazz that year. In 1998,
Down Beat presented Bill with their annual Lifetime achievement award.
In a recent 12 month period, 21 different books were published that
included some of Gottlieb's photos. The Library of Congress, using funds
from the Ira & Leonore S. Gershwin Fund,purchased all 1700 of Gottlieb's
jazz images "for posterity". Bill retains the copyright and commercial
rights for many years to come. Bill was also a competitive tennis
player. With son, Steven, he was frequently the Number One ranked
father-son team in the Eastern United States, as well as being twice in
the top eight teams in the United States. 


Lee Mergner
JazzTimes | Harp 

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