Photographer who took the famous JFK Junior photo at father’s funeral dies

Stan Stearns' iconic photograph

Stan Stearns, the photographer who took one of the most famous pictures of all time, has died at 76.

Stearns was working for United Press International on November 25, 1963. and snapped John Kennedy Junior saluting his father’s coffin as it passed by.

Stearns later related how he was across the street with other photographers and was focused on Jackie Kennedy when she leaned over and whispered to John Junior. Right after he raised his hand and saluted his father’s coffin as it passed. It was his third birthday.

“The hand went up. Click — one exposure,” Stearns told The New York Times in 2007. “That was it. That was the picture.”

After taking the photograph, Stearns felt he had something special and ignored orders to go to Arlington National Cemetery and went back to the UPI office to develop the picture.

A supervisor there was angry that he had not gone to the funeral. “You better have the picture of the funeral or you’re fired,” he remembered years later.

When Stearns developed the film showed him what he had, the man shouted: “He does have the picture.”

It quickly became one of the most famous images of all time.