Celebrity Lensman Herb Ritts Dies
Celebrity photographer Herb Ritts, 50, whose keen eye and imaginative wit behind the lens worked to the advantage of such subjects as Madonna and Jack Nicholson, died in Los Angeles on Thursday from complications of pneumonia, the Associated Press reports.
Given his reputation and credentials as something of an official in-house photographer for Vanity Fair magazine, Ritts, a Los Angeles native, was permitted access to Elizabeth Taylor at a time when her head scar for brain surgery was still visible. He also snapped Christopher Reeve wired up and immobile in a high-tech wheelchair.
Mostly working in black and white, Ritts also captured a cross-eyed Madonna in bed and sporting Minnie Mouse ears. In another Madonna shot by Ritts, the pop diva was shown grabbing her crotch.
"Fifty or 60 years from now, if someone sees a portrait of Madonna, they really won't care that it was Madonna or they won't know who the hell she was," Ritts once said. "But it'll hold up as a portrait of an interesting woman you want to know. You feel her. There's something coming from it."
Favorite photo subject Richard Gere, 53, who became a friend of Ritts's, told The New York Times on Thursday, "Some photographers embalm their subjects, but he enlivened them."
Ritts is survived by his partner, entertainment attorney Erik Hyman; his mother, Shirley Ritts; a brother, Rory; and a sister, Christy, all of Los Angeles.
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