“A Day in the life of Jackie” by Ron Galella

Paparazzo Ron Galella mostly photographed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis between 1967 and 1982. Their legal wrangling began with 1972’s Galella v. Onassis and culminated in 1982, when he was ordered to pay her $5,000 in damages. In 1971 he took one of the most popular and enduring images of Onassis, Windswept Jackie. Galella calls it “my Mona Lisa.” He has published two books about his favourite subject, 1974’s Jacqueline and 2013’s Jackie: My Obsession.


“Jackie. Jackie. Jackie. Everything depends on Jackie. Jackie is international, the biggest star all over the world. She doesn’t have to do anything but step out of her door to make news. There is tremendous curiosity about Jackie. Everybody wants to know what Jackie is doing all the time. There are at least fifty fan magazines and they’ll all buy pictures of Jackie. The National Enquirer will buy any new pictures of Jackie at any time. The fan magazines never get tired of her.

I didn’t realize that at first. I didn’t even start to take pictures of her until May 1967, when I got an assignment from Motion Picture magazine to take pictures of her at the Wildenstein Art Gallery in New York. I didn’t even know where she lived then; another photographer had to lead me to her apartment building later on so that I could get some paparazzo shots of her.

ImageMy first pictures of Jackie weren’t very good. I wasn’t really inspired at first. But gradually Jackie became more and more a part of my life. I became more and more fascinated with her. It was a challenge to photograph her. More editors started to ask for her pictures. Her name started to show up more often on the request lists that Time and Newsweek send me every week. I began to realize that the media paid big money for good pictures of Jackie.

I started to cover her and she began to notice me. She began to figure out that it was me who was getting all those pictures of her. One time I was waiting for her when she walked out of ’21.’ She was very cool, very calm. I like that about Jackie. She’s always very calm. She just walked over to me and grabbed my wrist and pinned me with her elbow against the side of her limousine. She has a good strong grip. She didn’t seem very angry. If anything she seemed rather pleased. She just looked at me and said in her low voice.:

‘You’ve been hunting me for two months now.’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Yes, I have.’

That was it. The first time we had ever spoken. She didn’t say anything else. She just got into the limousine and drove off.”

Jacqueline, Ron Galella, Sheed and Ward, Inc. 1974.

Ron Galella interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATjXUAOdTIg