Famed Photographer to the Stars, Glenn Waggner Jr quietly passed away in Los Angeles on August 19, 2018.
By Howard Waggner
He succumbed to complications of pneumonia, with his family by his side, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
He was 82 years old.
Glenn Jr was born in Richmond, Virginia to Glenn Sr and Rose WaGGner. His family moved to the Hollywood area while he was a teenager. He was a graduate of Hollywood High School.
Glenn WaGGner Jr.'s historic career in the photojournalism field began very simply, through a program in high school shooting local high school football and basketball games in the Los Angeles area.
Before he was done, he'd end up being nominated for multiple Pulitzer prizes (including three in one year, in 3 different categories), and got to photograph prominent politicians and celebrities at the apex of their careers.
Talking with WaGGner about his career was better than sitting through a 20th Century U.S. History class.
He was on a train as a child when President Roosevelt passed by in a wheelchair, giving him a chance to photograph the first of many presidents in his illustrious career.
Nixon, Carter, Reagan. You name them, he shot them.
He was there for tragedy – Waggner was one of the first on the scene at the death of Marilyn Monroe – and triumph, having shot the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and multiple Super Bowls.
Monroe's death wasn't the only major celebrity event where WaGGner was one of the first on the scene. He also was able to get some of the first photos of a young Frank Sinatra, Jr., after he was recovered in December 1963 following a kidnapping for ransom.
Even when things appeared to be against him, such as when UPI cut him loose in the early 90s, he still kept on, teaming with a writing staff to form their own entertainment wire and utilizing the early days of the Internet to change the ways in which newspapers and emerging news and entertainment websites received photos.
Family was critically important to Glenn, who took his wife and children with him to a number of events, including Presidential press conferences in the early days of his career and the Academy Awards. He'd use his sons, Howard and Glenn III, to help serve as runners to the deadline room to deliver film and collect tear sheets as Glenn snapped away.
He'd go on tour with Bob Hope, traveling on USO tours and blending right in with the celebrity culture.
And as crazy as that might seem, WaGGner was nearly face-to-face with someone who was truly just that.
“Charles Manson said I looked crazy,” WaGGner said. “I'll take that as a compliment.”
He covered protests during the Iran hostage crisis, more fires than he can remember and had cyanide-laced bullets ricocheting off the curb in front of him during a 1974 shootout between Los Angeles police and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
He was a witness to some of the most memorable events and people over the latter half of the 20th Century, and despite knowing at the time he was witnessing history, he never lost focus of his job at hand.
“When you're shooting presidents and the like, it's always interesting when you get to tell them where to move and what to do,” he said.
Glenn was considered a mentor to many talented photographers during his tenure, included several that became personal photographers for several US presidents, and many in other specialized fields.
One of his biggest legacy achievements that he worked on was to change California law regarding press access during major disasters. California Penal Code 409.5 section D forever cleared the way for the press to gather information, as real time witnesses, for the public.
Along with the countless awards he received over his amazing career, Glenn WaGGner recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award from the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles in 2014. He served as President of the organization in 1978.
Glenn Jr. Is survived by his wife of 56 years, Phyllis; son Glenn III (Cecille); son Howard (Starla); granddaughters An and Lisa and grandson Daniel.