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In Memoriam

Edward Clark


Release Date

2020 01 22

Auntie Mame.jpg

Ed Clark (July 3, 1911, Nashville, Tennessee – January 22, 2000, Sarasota, Florida) was a photographer who worked primarily for Life magazine. His best remembered work captured a weeping Graham W. Jackson, Sr. playing his accordion as the body of the recently deceased President Franklin D. Roosevelt was being transported to Washington, DC.

Wikipedia, last update 2023.03.22.

The Photography of Edward Clark

Most of LIFE’S photographers had a knack for capturing the essence of people, for laying claim to their most characteristic moments. Ed Clark (1911-2000) had this ability in spades. Perhaps it was his own sense of self. He hailed from Nashville, and after LIFE offered him a contract, he was summoned to New York City. Clark demurred: “I’ll work for you in Tennessee and go wherever you want me to go. I have two small boys. I don’t want to bring them up in Manhattan.” Picture Editor Wilson Hicks responded, “We don’t have a single employee in the whole state of Tennessee, and we’re not going to start now.” But after seeing Clark’s work on ensuing assignments, Hicks folded: “O.K., Ed, you win. You can live in Nashville.” Good decision. Over the years, Clark produced scores of memorable images for LIFE. His favorite? The young painter in Montmartre. “I didn’t know where France was, let alone Paris. It was so beautiful that I just started photographing.”

Clark had driven all night for LIFE—”Get to Warm Springs, Georgia, any way you can!”—to be able to get a shot of FDR’s funeral procession. Said Clark: “There must have been 135 photographers there from everywhere. The Secret Service lined us all up behind a barrier in front of a small house they called the Little White House so we could photograph the caisson as it came by with Roosevelt’s casket on it…I heard this accordion start to play behind me and I turned around … I thought to myself, ‘My God, what a picture.’ I was the only one who saw it.’

—Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

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