Thursday, August 11, 2011

Barbara backstage

The 3 of them converged in a stairwell at the Mosque Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, in June 1956: 21-year-old "Bobbi" Owens, 26-year-old photographer Alfred Wertheimer, and 21-year-old Elvis Presley. The resulting published shot (1st image) was one of 48 photos featuring Elvis's "date for the day," and the most famous of the 3,800 photos that Alfred took of Elvis over the 2-day period. Though some of the photos showed the girl from a more identifiable angle, the photographer - now 81 (2nd image) - never got her name and the fan never came forward, even after seeing the photo that became known as "The Kiss" hundreds of times. In the 1970s, a woman named "Barbara Satinoff" had called, identifying herself as the subject, but Alfred was not convinced. A year ago, when the caller read that the image was to be featured in a retrospective of the photographer's work, the "unknown young woman" - now 76 and known as Barbara Gray (3rd image) - found Alfred on Facebook. She had some convincing to do, and they have some conflicting memories of those moments in the stairwell, but Barbara has finally been acknowledged. Alfred named her in an affidavit and paid her a small settlement. Monetary gain was never her goal, however. "I just wanted to get my name on the damn picture,” she told Vanity Fair, which broke the story and tells it in detail in the current issue.

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