Bill Eppridge, the legendary Time-Life photographer whose most famous image showed Sen. Robert Kennedy dying on the floor of a hotel kitchen pantry in Los Angeles, passed away Thursday at age 75.
Eppridge was covering RFK's 1968 campaign, which seemed White House-bound after winning the California primary. "Now on to Chicago, and let's win there!" Kennedy declared. Moments later, he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. Eppridge's photos of
Kennedy, bleeding, busboy Juan Romero at his side, can still haunt Americans of a certain age.
I was only in grade school, but old enough to have Kennedy bumper stickers on my bedroom door. (My affection for RFK was probably more of a contact high than any great precocious political smarts. But that's how things were.) As I recall, Kennedy had not been declared dead yet when it was time for school the next morning. My mother suggested I pull those stickers down, so I wouldn't come home to them should the worst come true. I did, but now I wish I hadn't.
Eppridge covered many subjects: revolutions in Latin America, the Beatles' arrival in the U.S., heroin addiction and the 1964 funeral of slain civil-rights worker James Chaney. But he'll be remembered for the Kennedy photo, one among many gut-wrenchers he took that night. “I just turned to my left and there was the senator lying there and at that point my profession changed," he once told NPR. "I became a historian.” RIP
Photo by Bill Eppridge, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images