The Century of John G. Morris
Today’s Nouvellettre® is devoted to John Godfrey Morris, one of the most important editors in the history of photography, who celebrates his 100th birthday today.
An American living in Paris since 1983, he is possibly America’s most illustrious full-time resident in the City of Light. His name might mean nothing to you, but John’s lifetime career in photojournalism touched the lives of millions of people from as early as World War II when he was responsible for the coverage of the D-Day invasion in Normandy and edited the historic photos taken by Robert Capa. One story about John is that it was on his 25th birthday while working for Life Magazine in Los Angeles, and having birthday cake with family, that he got news of the Pearl Harbor attack. He spent the rest of his birthday in Little Tokyo and at the FBI headquarters till the wee hours of the morning. This event changed his life forever.
When he moved to Paris, he was the European correspondent for National Geographic. He also worked as photo editor with Ladies’ Home Journal, Magnum, The Pentagon, The Washington Post and The New York Times. As a veteran of the horrors of war as recorded in photos, John is a devout pacifist and believes in showing the true ugliness of war. His own photos emerged on the scene only a few years ago, when he joked that he was “the world’s oldest emerging photographer.”
I met John thanks to his active participation in Democrats Abroad. He regularly and graciously opens his atelier-style apartment to DA and other organizational events. He has always been active and sprite, attending many American-based affairs. It was never unusual to see John contributing openly to the ambiance of the event.
Over the years, John amassed an amazing collection of photography that was auctioned off in April of 2011, which I had the good fortune of witnessing alongside legendary New York Daily News photographer Harry Hamburg, at the Drouot Montaigne auction house. Harry whispered in my ear a blow-by-blow description of every photo that crossed the auctioneer’s path. I felt very privileged.
John was scheduled to celebrate his century on the planet with a special event at the American Library tonight at 7:30 p.m., but was postponed while he recuperates from emergency surgery this past week. “The American Library looks forward to rescheduling this retrospective in the presence of this giant of 20th-century photojournalism, and extends him every good wish on this extraordinary milestone.” Fortunately, the latest report from the family is that he is recovering comfortably here in a Paris hospital.
He also may not be able to attend his 100th birthday party planned at his Paris home in Le Marais this coming Sunday. Aside from the parties, John still has much to accomplish. He’s working on a new book titled, “My Century” with more than 600 pages including many of the photos of which he can be proud to have edited. His goal is to end war, period.
Yesterday, the New York Times published a glowing tribute to John: As He Turns 100, John Morris Recalls a Century in Photojournalism By James Estrin and is well worth reading.
Naturally, Wikipedia lists his long list of accomplishments and publications including having been awarded the 2009 Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Get the Picture (2013), produced five years ago, is a documentary about John produced by Irish filmmaker Cathy Pearson. The film is about “the unique and illustrious life of legendary photo journalism editor John G. Morris” shown at the American Library in Paris prior to its formal release.
We all wish John a very Happy Birthday and Get Well Soon. You may do the same on his Facebook page.
Happy Birthday, John, and may you live another century!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(by Les Young)
P.S. Meet Lisa Anselmo, and hear the story behind her new memoir My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home. Tuesday, December 13, Lisa will reveal how she turned the devastating loss of her mother into a purposeful new life—and share her 5 Keys to Reinventing a Happier Life. See the full details at Après Midi