“The Godfather of U.S. Paparazzi Culture”
-Time & Vanity Fair
Widely regarded as the most famous and most controversial celebrity photographer in the world—he's been dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek, and “the Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time and Vanity Fair—Galella is clearly willing to take great risks to get the perfect shot. As a result, Ron has endured two highly publicized court battles with Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, a broken jaw at the hands of Marlon Brando, and a serious beating by Richard Burton’s bodyguards before being jailed in Cuernavaca, Mexico. But ultimately, it is his passion for the fine art of photography, coupled with a dedicated do-it-yourself approach to his craft—few artists can claim his level of skill in making their own prints—that sees Ron's body of work exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the world. The Museum of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco, the Tate Modern in London, and the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Photography in Berlin, among many others, all maintain collections of Galella's iconic works.
Ron's passion for photojournalism has also given rise to many highly acclaimed photo-art books, including Disco Years (PowerHouse Books), which was honored as Best Photography Book of 2006 by The New York Times. In 2010, Galella made the transition to moving film with Smash His Camera, a documentary of his life and career by Oscar-winning director Leon Gast (When We Were Kings, 1996). Premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Smash His Camera received the Grand Jury Award for Directing in the U.S. Documentary category. The film was also well-received at the 54th BFI London Film Festival prior to airing on the BBC throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.
Tantamount to his recognition at home and in Northern Europe, the government of Basilicata graciously honored Ron—whose father, Vincenzo, was born in Muro Lucano—by making him an honorary citizen of the Italian region in 2009. Basilicata concurrently opened Ron Galella: Italian Icons, a traveling exhibit of over 70 of Ron’s photos, at Palazzo Lanfranchi’s Carlo Levi Hall in Matera, and in conjunction with the opening, Ron launched Viva l’Italia!—a collection of over 225 images of Italian and Italian-American celebrities from Frank Sinatra to Sophia Loren.
Galella married Betty Burke Galella, (RIP) April of 1979. Speaking of his wife, Galella said, “When Betty first purchased my photos for publication and granted me assignment credentials over the phone, I fell in love with her warm soft, loving voice. I met her in person for the first time, two years later, on Dec. 10, 1978, at the Kennedy Center for the premiere of ‘Superman’. With one look at that beautiful girl, I said, ‘I’m gonna marry you.’ And five months later, we were. Once married, we became a team.” Betty was born in Somerset, Kentucky, raised in Arlington, and lived in Yonkers before moving to New Jersey in 1992.
A native New Yorker now residing in New Jersey, Ron served as a United States Air Force photographer during the Korean conflict before attending the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he earned a degree in Photo journalism.
Usage & Licensing
Ron’s body of work is currently made available for research and editorial use through Getty Images and their website at https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/ron-galella; authorized representatives are available via phone at +1 (646) 613 4000, OR +1 (800) 462-4379.