Wallace Seawell, the photographer who took photos of celebrities for several decades, died May 29 at the age of 90.
Seawell was born in Atlanta, Georgia on September 16, 1916. While he was young his family moved to Sarasota, Florida. As a child who displayed artistic talent and wanted to be a painter, but became interested in photography after getting a camera. He attended Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, where he studied photography.
Following graduation he would be a set designer and fashion photographer in New York. World War II would see him in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. While in the military he made over fifty training films.
After World War II Seawell got a job with commercial photographer Paul A. Hesse. He worked for Hesse for twenty years, until Hesse's retirement. Seawell then started his own photography studio in West Hollywood. Seawell was most famous for his portraits of movie stars. Among the stars he photographed were George Burns and Gracie Allen, Joan Collins, Nat King Cole, Tony Curtis, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Janet Leigh, Sophia Loren, and Gregory Peck. He accompanied the Harlem Globetrotters on three different world tours. He also served as the official photographer of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus for a time. He also took photographs of heads of state, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the Shah of Iran. He had worked for Howard Hughes at RKO Studios for a time as well.
Seawell often credited his success as a result of his enthusiasm for his work. Despite this, he also had a good deal of talent as well. Seawell had a gift for discovering the best in his subjects and capturing that on film. It was a talent that even many famous photographers lack, and it was that talent which placed him in such demand. He will certainly be missed.
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