Rosenthal, Joseph J. 1911-2006

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Rosenthal, Joseph J. 1911-2006
(Joe Rosenthal)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 9, 1911, in Washington, DC; died August 20, 2006, in Novato, CA. Photographer. Rosenthal was a photographer for the Associated Press when he snapped the Pulitzer-winning picture of U.S. servicemen raising the flag over Iwo Jima during World War II. While attending the University of San Francisco in 1930, his side job as a photographer consumed his time and he never completed a degree. Instead, Rosenthal continued as an office boy and photographer for the Newspaper Enterprise Association. He also worked for the San Francisco News and Acme News Pictures in the early and mid-1930s. From 1936 to 1941, Rosenthal was bureau manager and photographer in San Francisco for the New York Times-Wideworld Photos. He was hired by the Associated Press in 1941, and spent the war covering some of the Pacific theater's most violent conflicts, including battles at Guam, Guadalcanal, and New Guinea. The mission to capture Iwo Jima from the Japanese was one of the most costly of the war. When the island was finally taken, the Americans raised a flag over Mt. Suribachi. Rosenthal, however, missed this scene. He walked over to the place where the flag was hoping to take a posed shot of soldiers by the flag. Fortunately, a commander had ordered a larger flag to be raised, and Rosenthal was able to get the shot that made him famous. Sergeant William Genaust took color film of the occasion, but Genaust was killed several days later. Rosenthal had taken a posed shot after the flag raising, thinking that his first shots might not have come out right. Later, when asked if his flag raising shot had been posed, Rosenthal replied that it was, mistakenly thinking about his later photo. The response, as well as news that the scene had been of a second flag raising, led to accusations that Rosenthal's photo was not genuine. It actually was a real-life scene, however, and the famous image has since been used for statues, postage stamps, and other homages to the bravery of America's soldiers. In response to his critics, Rosenthal always replied that his role was not important; what was important was those who fought and died for their country. After World War II, Rosenthal returned to San Francisco and worked for the San Francisco Chronicle until he retired in 1981.



Chicago Tribune, August 22, 2006, section 3, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2006, p. B10.

New York Times, August 22, 2006, p. C11; August 25, 2006, p. A2.

Times (London, England), August 22, 2006, p. 49.

Washington Post, August 22, 2006, p. B6.

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Rosenthal, Joseph J. 1911-2006

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