The Photographer Terry O’Neill is Eighty

Of the incredible stars he photographed he found they all had their insecurities. “You know what always amazed me? That none of the beautiful women I’ve photographed ever thought they were beautiful. Ava didn’t. Marilyn didn’t. Michelle Pfeiffer doesn’t. Such a waste.”

Jean Shrimpton, 1964. ‘People used to say she looked like a doll, so I took her to a doll’s hospital I used to pass on my way to the office. She was the best model I ever photographed, without a living doubt.’

Terrence Patrick “Terry” O’Neill is eighty. Born in Romford, Essex just over a year before the start of ww2 within ten years he was meeting celebrities at theatre stage doors collecting autographs for his mother. “Mum loved the theatre and collecting autographs but she was very shy so I would get them from people like Sir Laurence Oliver and Noel Coward,”

His first job in photography was in a photographic unit for an airline at London Airport ten or so years before it was renamed Heathrow. By accident he filmed the Home Secretary Rab Butler sleeping at the airport and it got the eye of Fleet Street editors. He was soon hired for the Daily Sketch in 1959.

His first professional job was photographing Laurence Olivier but he went on to take pictures of anyone who was anyone – from the Beatles and Judy Garland to the Royal Family.

“I’d do five or six jobs a day” he once remembered, “while the old timers wanted to do one and go back to the darkroom and play shove ha’penny” the hard work and energy meant that he soon became one of the top photographers of the Sixties. “Within two weeks I had photographed the Beatles and the Stones…nobody ever fazed me after that.” Around that time he got Diana Dors to sweep snow on a film set. Michael Winner was watching and said: ‘Either that guy is going to be a top photographer or he is going to be history within weeks.’ ”

As the Daily Telegraph once put it: ‘He is famous for his charm, which coaxed an easy, intimate sparkle from those who had it and knew it, those who had it but hid it, and those who never had it at all.’

Elton John at home in London, 1975. Terry O’Neill

Of the incredible stars he photographed they all had their insecurities. “You know what always amazed me? That none of the beautiful women I’ve photographed ever thought they were beautiful. Ava didn’t. Marilyn didn’t. Michelle Pfeiffer doesn’t. Such a waste.”

Faye Dunaway, Beverley Hills Hotel, March 29 1977. The morning after the night before.

Elizabeth Taylor makeup A Little Night Music 1977 Terry O’Neill

Elton John does a handstand on his piano, London, 1972 – Photo by Terry O’Neill

Singer David Bowie wearing a smart hat and sunglasses during the filming of ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ in Los Angeles, 1975.

English actors Michael Caine and Geraldine Moffat star in the film ‘Get Carter’, 1970.

Michael Caine and Geraldine Moffat star in the film ‘Get Carter’, 1970.

English actor Michael Caine stops for a chat during the filming of Mike Hodges’ gangster classic ‘Get Carter’, circa 1971. In the background, on the left, is playwright John Osborne, who also stars in the film. (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Rod Stewart at his home in Windsor 1971 by Terry O’Neill

Rex Harrison in 1968 by Terry O’Neill

Smoking a giant cigar, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr strikes a Churchillian pose outside 10 Downing Street, London, 1965 by Terry O’Neill

Terry O’Neill, Winston Churchill, London, 1962

Terry O’Neill, Alice Cooper with his wife and daughter at home, Los Angeles, 1980s

Sean Connery during the filming of Diamonds Are Forever. Photo by Terry O’Neill.

Terry O’Neill, Bobby Moore and Franz Beckenbauer, London, c. 1970

Terry O’Neill, Jodie Foster, 1976

Terry O’Neill, Lee Marvin, Denver, 1971

Audrey Hepburn, St Tropez 1967

Terry O’Neill, Chuck Berry, St Louis

David Bailey – 1967 Photo by Terry O’Neill

George Lazenby and Jill St John spreading sun cream, 1965 © Terry O’Neill

British actress Joan Collins wearing a long silk evening dress at home in London, mid 1970s. (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Getty Images)

Yves Saint Laurent (1936 – 2008) with American actress Raquel Welch, 1975. © Terry O’Neill

Terry O' Neill

Goldie Hawn in London for filming There’s A Girl In My Soup directed by Roy Boulting with Peter Sellers 1970′ – Terry O’Neill

American actor Harrison Ford on the set of the wartime drama ‘Hanover Street’, directed by Peter Hyams, London, 1979. (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Goldie Hawn in London for filming There’s A Girl In My Soup directed by Roy Boulting with Peter Seller 1970′ by Terry O’Neill

Rare and Unseen Deluxe Edition – Terry O’Neill released in November 2018 can be pre-ordered here