The Keys to Harry’s Success

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The colors of Palm Beach. Photo: JH.

Thursday, February 23, 2023. A quiet week here in New York after the President’s Day holiday where it was so quiet it seemed as if everyone had left town. Although I went to dinner last night at Sette Mezzo where the place was so packed and the voice level so high you could get the impression that everyone is back.

Meanwhile, down in Palm Beach where the action is (socially) our friend photojournalist Harry Benson CBE was presented with the Key to the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens as the 2023 Artist in Residence. CBE, not so incidentally stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire, granted to Harry a number of years ago by Queen Elizabeth II.

Harry, as you may know, began his distinguished career when he was a young man from Scotland (Glasgow) working with his camera for Fleet Street, which ultimately brought him to the the U.S. in 1964 to cover the American debut of The Beatles which — because of his wisdom of his eye — made him famous to the American public looking at photos of them having a pillow fight in their room at Hotel George V in Paris. The pillow fight was Harry’s idea since he had the camera and boys in the band in the hotel had nothing to do; so he suggested they get a little action for his camera.

Beatles Pillow Fight, Paris, 1964.

Since that prized moment, for the next half century Harry has photographed American life and its characters, its Presidents, its movie stars and even Truman Capote hamming it up for Harry’s camera in a gay bar in New Orleans (for People magazine) with a bunch of drag queens who amused Capote.

The boy from Scotland who became the photographer from London, has photographed the world and especially the American way of life – which is where, following his much heralded debut, he made his way (and even married a girl from Texas) and has lived here ever since.

Truman Capote on Stage No. 3 Dancers, 1980.

This isn’t Harry’s first “award.”  This one was presented to him by Frances Fisher, President of the Board of Directors, last Friday evening at the newly completed Sculpture Gardens Gallery in West Palm Beach. Harry and his wife Gigi keep a house down there in the sun as their getaway from New York’s winters.

Margaret Horgan watches as Frances Fisher gives Harry the key to the Gardens.

The event was also the opening of his exhibition, PICTURING HISTORY, attended by Gigi and their daughter Wendy, and her husband Michael Landes and Harry’s grandchildren Mimi and Dominic, who flew in from Los Angeles for the event. Nearby were the co-chairmen of the event, Karyn Lamb and David Miller, committee members Mieke van Waveren, Linda Silpe, and Sarah Benitz; Director of the Sculpture Gardens, Margaret Horgan; Palm Beach Modern’s Nick Korniloff and Pamela Cohen; Jaye Luntz and Gabriel Gordon from JL Modern Gallery who curated the exhibit, along with The Gardens’ Donna Pfeiffer; and Frances’ husband, Jeff Fisher.

The event had a huge turnout. A slew of friends, to name just a few, included Edwina Sandys, Hilary and Bryant Gumbel, Susan Lloyd, Wendy Bingham Cox, Julia Hansen and Bill Foulk, Michel Witmer, Simone Levinson, Luce Churchill, John Loring, Fernanda Niven, Erin Flanagan, Cari Anderson and David Lubben, Annette Tapert, Maribel Alvarez, Rose Olsham, Caroline and Victoria Lloyd, Dr. Michael Ray, Dr. Sowmya Kishor and Dr. Krishna Kishor, Talbott Maxey, Scott Huston, Jane Ylvisaker, Regine Traulsen and Bill Diamond, Susan Magrino, Burt Minkoff, Jane Moore, Rochelle Ohrstrom, Missie Rennie, Brownie Warburton, Sharon Bush, Elizabeth and Bill Leatherman, Michael James, Eva Roosevelt, Charlie Scheips, Jennifer Ruys, William Blair Meyer III, and fellow photographers including the celebrated Judith Glickman Lauder and Priscilla Rattazzi, Neal Tandy and Palm Beach’s own Carrie Bradburn; many of whom were captured on this page by Jonathan Delano.

Frances Fisher, with Harry and Gigi Benson.

As Harry signed books, the crowd spilled over into the Sculpture Gardens where tables and chairs were set up and guests enjoyed the lovely evening breeze. The exhibition includes the 12 US presidents that Harry has photographed; and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken as the official portrait for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The exhibition will be up until the end of June with several events planned including the screening of the documentary HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST.

Antony Underwood and Jane Manus.
Bill Foulk, Julia Hanse, and Michael and Wendy Landes.
Dennis Gallo, James Cosel, and Eva Roosevelt.
Edwina Sandys.
Erin Flanagan, William Blair Meyer III, Harry, and John Loring.
Gigi Benson, with Dominic and Michael Landes.
Gigi Benson, Nick Korniloff, and Pamela Cohen.
Gigi Benson, Ray Wakefield, Harry, and David Miller.
Harry with Simone Levinson.
Jane Ylvisaker and Maribel Alvarez.
Jeff Fisher and Harry.
Joannie Goodman and Suzanne Lloyd.
John Loring and Susan Lloyd.
Judith Glickman Lauder and Harry.
Kate Khosrovani, Caroline and Victoria Lloyd, and Wendy Benson Landes.
Kate Khosrovani, Harry, and Regine Traulsen.
Krystian von Speidel and Susan Magrino.
Lacy Kiernan and Harry Benson.
Luce Churchill, Susan Lloyd, and Jacquline Togut.
Margaret Horgan and Frances Fisher give Harry Key to the Gardens.
Mimi and Wendy Landes, with Bryant and Hilary Gumbel.
Pete Bonventre and Harry.
Rose Olsham.
Ursula Gwynne and Harry.
Wendy Landes, Harry Benson, Cari Anderson, and David Lubben.
Wendy Landes, Gigi, and Harry.

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