VETERAN WWD PHOTOGRAPHER TONY PALMIERI DIES AT 76
Byline: Dianne M. Pogoda
NEW YORK — Tony Palmieri, a photographer who chronicled fashion and the famous for 43 years for Fairchild Publications, died Thursday after suffering a heart attack. He would have been 77 on Sunday.
Since his retirement in 1993, he was a volunteer photographer at the publicity office of St. Vincent’s Hospital, here. It was there that he was stricken, according to his daughter, Jean E. Palmieri, a senior editor of Daily News Record, a sister publication to WWD.
Palmieri spent his entire career at Fairchild, and while his photos appeared in many of the company’s publications, his lens primarily was an eye for WWD and W. His photographs were reprinted in many books about New York society.
“Tony was a pioneer of the paparazzi of the social set,” John B. Fairchild, chairman and editorial director of Fairchild Publications, said Thursday. “He took some of the best pictures ever taken of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, when she was First Lady and afterward. And he was a cornerstone of the transformation of WWD, back in the early Sixties, when we broadened our coverage beyond Seventh Avenue.”
Although Palmieri was on a first-name basis with many of the glitterati he photographed, he never affected any airs.
He never flinched at an assignment, even if it meant dropping everything at night or on a weekend. His ability to push past security guards or work his way through a thick crowd to get a photo belied a gentle nature. It was not unusual in the Palmieri household for the phone to ring during dinner and Palmieri to be out the door within minutes because Jackie O was seen at a restaurant. He usually got the picture, and it often ended up on page one.
Even the reclusive Greta Garbo was no match for him. In 1977, he saw her leaving Abercrombie & Fitch. She saw him — and his camera — and attempted to shield her face with her hand. He was faster than she was. The picture ran on the front page.
One of his shots of Jackie Onassis captured her in a local hamburger shop. It ran in WWD, and carried the caption, “Burger Queen.”
He was encouraging to young reporters, often helping out with a tip during an assignment. He made covering events easier, because he usually knew the key people to photograph.
Staff photographers considered him a mentor.
“He taught us all everything,” said Thomas Iannaccone, a WWD photographer. “Tony knew all the ladies, and they all smiled for him. They went out of their way to be photographed by him. The rest of us had to chase them, but they chased him.”
He was a lifelong resident of Greenwich Village. Palmieri joined the company in 1950, starting as an assistant in the photo studio. Before long, he was a photographer and eventually became director of photography.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Jean; a son, Douglas; two grandsons and two brothers.
Services were not yet set at press time.