“Kennedy carefully controlled the production of photographs to ensure that he was always presented as the character he had chosen to play. No photographs were allowed showing him eating, smoking cigars, playing golf, or kissing his wife.” Hellman, quoted beneath pp 132-3.


“Jackie had been wearing them [glasses] since her teens, Jack only more recently as middle-age crept up on him. (At Wexford the previous month , when Irene Galitzin had tried to take a farewell photograoh of him wearing them, he had turned on her good naturedly, "For God's sake, Irene, spare me. You'll lose me all my women [voters]...” )..." Sarah Bradford, America's Queen, The Life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 2000, p. 354


plates from Wharton, The Roosevelt Omnibus, 1934



References - to accompany the PHOTOWORKS review

Most of the books that define the Presidencies are heavily word based, David McCullough on Truman, , Stephen Ambrose's books on Eisenhower and Nixon; Robert Caro's books on Lyndon Johnson and Nigel Hamilton's biography of Clinton.No published work purporting to be an intelligent survey ever has the nuances achieveable in the magazine's photo-essay as published in LOOK (Kennedy's House magazine) and LIFE. Even a president so image based as Ronald Reagan finds his most perceptive commentators' books (Gary Wills, Lou Cannon) largely image free.

My favourite alternative is Don Wharton's The Roosevelt Omnibus, Knopf, New York 1934 divided into four sections,(see Gallery)

1. Photographs;

2. Articles;

3. Cartoons and Caricatures (not all supportive);

4. A Miscellany being newspaper fronts, White House memoranda and a Dynastic Family Tree. The book even ends with a useful Bibliography as of 1934.

Section One devotes two double page spreads to "The Glad Hands" wondrous exercises in the art of the political handshake. Under "Lighting up" the equivalent space is devoted to the way that the President and his companions set fire to a rnge of tobacco products. Spreads devoted to "Eating" (see Hellmann quote above) and "Speaking" allow complex visual propositions in understanding the man. The third section enriches our perception of what the Voters saw in him as Saviour and Shibboleth.


James M. McPherson, To the Best of My Ability, The American Presidents, Dorling Kindersley, London New York, London 2000.

Staff of the Historian’s Office, If Elected… Unsuccessful Candidates for the Presidency 1796 – 1968, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, 1972

William V Shannon, They Could not Trust the King, Nixon, Watergate and the American people, Collier Books, New York and London 1974, with photographs by Stanley Tretick and designed by Allen Hurlburt.

Christopher Matthews, Kennedy & Nixon, The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, New York. 1996, 1997.


John Hellman, The Kennedy Obsession, The American Myth of JFK, Columbia University Press, New York, 1997.

Jacques Lowe, Kennedy A Time Remembered, Quartet/Visual Arts, London and New York 1983.

Robert J. Groden, The Killing of a President, Bloomsbury, London 1993

Don DeLillo, Libra, Penguin, London 1989 (a novel)


Joe McGinnis, The Selling of the President, Trident, New York 1969.

Max Atkinson, Our Masters’ Voices, Methuen, London 1984.

H.L.Mencken, Selected Prejudices, Cape, London 1926 (see essay on Roosevelt).

H.L.Mencken, On Politics, A Carnival of Buncombe, Vintage, New York, 1956, essay on “The Men who Rule Us” 1930.

H.L.Mencken, Selected Prejudices, Cape, London 1927 , Persons, "Roosevelt"

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image, or What happened to the American Dream, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London 1961.

Yousuf Karsh, Karsh Portfolio, Nelson University of Toronto Press Camden New Jersey 1967 (Kennedy and Johnson)


William Manchester, American Caesar - Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, Hutchinon, London 1979. p.335.


01 - Of President Lincoln, H.L.Mencken writes (Selected Prejudices, p.207), "His official portraits, both in prose and in daguerrotype show him wearing the mien of a man about to be hanged; one never sees him smiling. Nevertheless, one hears that, until he emerged from Illinois, they always put the women, children and clergy to bed when he got a few gourds of corn whiskey aboard..."

02 - “Kennedy carefully controlled the production of photographs to ensure that he was always presented as the character he had chosen to play. No photographs were allowed showing him eating, smoking cigars, playing golf, or kissing his wife.” Hellman, pp 132-3.

03 - That the Nixon presidential campaign of 1968 was based on the still photographic work by David Douglas Duncan, a friend of the candidate, but Nixon’s face “would not be on the screen. Instead there would be pictures, and hopefully, the pictures would prevent people from paying too much attention to the words.” McGinnis, pp.84,ff.

04 - The Sincerity Machine described by Max Atkinson, p.67 Ronald Reagan speaking at Westminster in 1982, “The words on the transparent screens can only be seen by the speaker and are invisible to the audience. They are reflected on to the screens from TV sets facing upwards from the floor… Behind the scenes an assistant winds the script in front of the TV camera which relays it into the hall.”
05. Interview with Cornell Capa who had photographed Adlai Stevenson on the Election Trail in 1952 and supported him politically. None of his photographs had the impact of another .. "the famous picture of the hole in Stevenson's shoe. Whether the photographer saw it or not, the Associated Press editor saw it and enalrged it. The most famous photograph of Adlai Stevenson was taken right in front of my nose and I didn't take it. For the next twelve years when I was photographing Stevenson, I kept on telling people about my great love for him and all he stood for and all the wonderful pictures I have taken... "Oh you must have taken the picture with the hole in the shoe." So there you are..." quoted in John Loengrad, LIFE photographers, What they Saw Bulfinch, Boston 1998, p.256, illustrated p.255, see also editorial manipulation of photographs of Attleee and Churchill 1951.06 - Karsh, “here are Kruschev and Kennedy, architects of liberal transformation in their two great powers, who moved from mutual confrontation toward mutual understanding.”p.9 Portfolio. … Within each of them lies an essential element which has made them great. I acll it the ‘ inward power’…” In Karsh’s portrait of Churchill, his pugnacity was not his determination of purpose “defiant and unconquerable”, but was generated by the photographer’s sudden removal of the Prime Minister’s cigar from his teeth. p.34)

07 - Daniel Boorstine, written during Kennedy’s reign in 1961, quotes Walter Lippman,’s influential book Public Opinion 1922, “The pictures inside the heads of these human beings, the pictures of themselves, of others, of their needs, purposes and relationship, are their public opinions. These pictures are acted upon by groups of people are Public Opinion with capital letters.” P.233. Boorstin sees the global drift from ideals (ideas even) to images in the creation of Pseudo Events and Self-Delusion.

08 - Manchester above, MacArthur was ordered to meet Roosevelt in Honolulu and complained at being ordered away from the War Front,”for a political picture taking junket.” He nearly got more than he anticipated when Roosevelt spotted that the General’s flies were undone. “Do you see what I see ?” the President whispered delightedly to one of the White House photographers. “Quick get a shot of it.” The cameraman was focussing his lens when the General, giving him a look of icy disdain, crossed his legs....

09 Peter Hurd's official portrait of Lyndon Johnson, meeting at the President's ranch in October, 1965, and driving around in a car, "And we had to tell them that that the President did not like - indeed, hardly any one liked - the portrait that Peter had worked so hard on...When Lyndon said he did not like the eyes, Peter made a good case for the dreamy expression in them. 'This man was looking off into the future - this man had vision." And I did not like the background and this he said he could change, and would. He was the first to admit that the body, and especially the hands, were not good, and because he had not enough sittings... And the parapet that Lyndon was standing against has no meaning to me. It was a gruesomely uncomfortable half-hour. But there is one thing one has a right to express oneself on - and that is one's own portrait... The final conclusion was that Peter would work again on the background, reduce the painting in size so as to omit the hands, and perhaps just leave the Capital dome lighted. And we would look at it again." Lady Bird Johnson, A WHITE HOUSE DIARY, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London 1970, pp.331,332.

10 Lady Bird oversees Gilroy Roberts' design for the Presidential medal."I think the hardest thing for a sculptor to capture is the eyes, and the eyes were wonderful and the brow and the shape of the head. (Lyndon, I think, has a rather magnificently shaped head.) The ears were just as big as Lyndon's are and I wouldn't have them the slightest bit smaller. The mouth I didn't really like much... I suggested a slight change to the mouth. Mr.Roberts made the change - and I liked it better." DIARY as 09, pp. 17,18.



JFK Assassination gallery
The White House News Photographers’Association
Diana Walker, photojournalist working for TIME
John F.Kennedy Library and Museum
Abbie Row and photographing Truman
the first woman White House photographer until 1951
Archives of American Art, images of the Presidents
-- dirck halstead ([email protected]), September 28, 1997 on what is a White House photographer...



text of the review as published







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