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Photographer Ron Galella has died aged 91

Paparazzi trailblazer Ron Galella, nicknamed “Paparazzo Extraordinary” and the “Godfather” of the industry, died on Saturday.

The photographer – who fronted celebrities such as Jacqueline Onassis and Marlon Brando – died at his home in Montville, New Jersey at 91 of congestive heart failure, according to The New York Times.

Galella’s death was confirmed by Geoffrey Croft, who edited Galella’s latest book, 100 Iconic Photographs – A Retrospective.

RIP: Paparazzi trailblazer Ron Galella, nicknamed ‘Paparazzo Extraordinary’ and the ‘Godfather’ of the industry, died on Saturday

Clashed: The photographer – who clashed with celebrities such as Jacqueline Onassis and Marlon Brando – died at his home in Montville, New Jersey at 91 from congestive heart failure, according to the New York Times

Clashed: The photographer – who clashed with celebrities such as Jacqueline Onassis and Marlon Brando – died at his home in Montville, New Jersey at 91 from congestive heart failure, according to the New York Times

Galella was born in New York in January 1931, beginning his photographic career as a US Air Force photographer from 1951 to 1955, including a stint in the Korean War.

After his time in the army, he attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he graduated in photojournalism in 1958.

He began taking photos of celebrities at movie premieres and selling them to publications like the National Enquirer in the early 1960s, long before paparazzi photographers became ubiquitous at such events.

Stint: Galella was born in New York in January 1931, beginning his photographic career as a US Air Force photographer from 1951 to 1955, including a stint in the Korean War

Stint: Galella was born in New York in January 1931, beginning his photographic career as a US Air Force photographer from 1951 to 1955, including a stint in the Korean War

His work was quickly looked down upon by celebrities for taking their photos without permission, with a judge in the late 1960s calling him one of the worst, “two-bit carvers and fixers”.

He literally hid in bushes or parked cars, sometimes even bribing doormen or limo drivers for the shots he needed.

Galella is perhaps best known for his relentless pursuit of Jaqueline Onassis, which even led to a nearly decade-long legal battle.

Two-bit: His work was quickly scorned by celebrities for taking their pictures without permission, with a judge in the late 1960s calling it one of the worst

Two-bit: His work was quickly scorned by celebrities for taking their pictures without permission, with a judge in the late 1960s calling him one of the worst “two-bit scissors and fixers”.

Onassis sued Galella in 1972, claiming the photographer was making his life “intolerable, almost unlivable, with his constant surveillance”, despite claiming he had the right to make a living taking these photos.

The result was that a judge issued a restraining order prohibiting Galella from being 25 feet from Jackie O and 30 feet from her children.

He was convicted of violating this order four times over the next decade, for which he was sentenced to more than seven years in prison and fined $120,000.

Sued: Onassis sued Galella in 1972, claiming the photographer was giving her life back

Prosecuted: Onassis sued Galella in 1972, claiming the photographer was making his life ‘intolerable, almost unlivable, with her constant surveillance’, as he claimed he had the right to make a living taking these photos

He would eventually settle for a $10,000 fine and waive his rights to photograph Jackie and her children.

Galella admitted in the 2010 documentary Smash His Camera (the title of which is taken from Jackie O’s instructions to a security guard) that he was “obsessed” with the former First Lady.

‘I didn’t have a girlfriend. She was my girlfriend, sort of,” Galella said in the documentary.

Obsessed: Galella admitted in the 2010 documentary Smash His Camera (the title of which is taken from Jackie O's instructions to a security guard) that he was

Obsessed: Galella admitted in the 2010 documentary Smash His Camera (the title of which is taken from Jackie O’s instructions to a security guard) that he was ‘obsessed’ with the former First Lady

He was also punched in the face by Marlon Brando in 1972 after he followed him outside a restaurant in New York, and he sued the actor, who eventually settled for $40,000.

Galella has also had controversial run-ins with celebrities such as Richard Burton, Elvis Presley, whose security guards slashed his tires, and Sean Penn, who punched him while photographing the actor with his wife from the era, Madonna.

Despite the hatred of his methods, the photographs themselves have often been widely praised, appearing in publications such as Time, Life, People and The National Enquirer.

Photos: Despite the hatred of his methods, the photographs themselves have often been widely praised, appearing in publications such as Time, Life, People and The National Enquirer

Photos: Despite the hatred of his methods, the photographs themselves have often been widely praised, appearing in publications such as Time, Life, People and The National Enquirer

Galella has published 22 photography books and his work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, with Andy Warhol calling him his favorite photographer.

He married Betty Lou Burke in 1979, who worked as a photo editor for Today Is Sunday before becoming his business partner until her death in 2017.

Galella is survived by her brother Vincent and several nieces and nephews as well as great-nieces and nephews.

Books: Galella has published 22 photography books and his work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, with Andy Warhol calling him his favorite photographer

Books: Galella has published 22 photography books and his work has been exhibited in galleries around the world, with Andy Warhol calling him his favorite photographer