RIP - William Claxton 1927-2008





William Claxton, the master photographer who took this iconic image of Steve McQueen and whose images of Chet Baker helped fuel the jazz trumpeter's stardom in the 1950s, has passed away at the age of 80 (one day short of turning 81).

According to a report in the LA Times, Claxton died from complications of congestive heart failure Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his wife, actress and model Peggy Moffitt Claxton, told The Times.

"In a career spanning more than a half century, Claxton also became well known for his work with celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen, who became a close personal friend; but he gained his foremost public recognition for his photographs of jazz performers including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Torme, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Stan Getz. But it was his photographs of Baker that helped teach him the true meaning of the word photogenic.

'I was up all night developing when the face appeared in the developing tray,' Claxton told the Irish Times in 2005. 'A tough demeanor and a good physique but an angelic face with pale white skin and, the craziest thing, one tooth missing -- he'd been in a fight. I thought, my God, that's Chet Baker.'"


[Chet Baker]

Claxton is survived by his wife of 49 years; his son Christopher; sister Colleen Lewis of Eagle Rock; and several nieces and nephews. A memorial gathering is being planned.

Read the full LA Times story here and view their Claxton photo slide-show here.

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RIP - William Claxton 1927-2008