One of the best remembered – and most widely reproduced – pictures taken at the time of John F Kennedy’s assassination, that of his son, three-year-old John Kennedy Jnr, saluting his father’s cortege, in now the subject of controversy.
Last month when long-time former White House photographer Joe O’Donnell died at the age of 86 he was credited with having taken the famous picture in an obituary in the New York Times which was republished around the country. But the picture was in fact taken by a UPI photographer Stan Stearns who was also covering JFK’s funeral.
Although the UPI cameraman’s negative shows that he did indeed take the famous picture, for many years O’Donnell signed – and even sold – copies of the historic photo. Other pictures the photographer supposedly took include one of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at their conference in Teheran in 1943. But records now indicate that O’Donnell was not in Teheran at the time.
Critics have also pointed out that pictures of President Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor taken in 1937 that O’Donnell also claimed could not have been taken by him as he was only 14 at the time.
Questions have also been raised about some of the pictures O’Donnell is credited with having taken after the WW2 atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The New York Times has since run a correction and says it is investigating. The Times claims that the information they used mostly came from the photo gallery that handled O’Donnell’s work for many years.