In the spirit of spreading some much-needed good news, the Associated Press recently revealed that Tony Vaccaro—the famed World War II photographer whose professional career spanned almost 80 years and 500,000 images—caught and survived coronavirus at the ripe old age of 97-years-old.
Vaccaro, a Queens native, is a photography icon. He survived the Battle of Normandy and captured thousands of images during the War, often developing them in Army helmets by the light of the moon. One of his most famous photographs, ‘Kiss of Liberation,’ shows a US soldier kissing a young French girl after liberating her town from Nazi occupation.
You can learn more about Mr. Vaccaro and see some of his iconic imagery in the short video by the American Battlefield Trust, which was release only a month ago:
After the war, he became a successful fashion and celebrity photographer—his subjects including famous names like Pablo Picasso, John F. Kennedy, Enzo Ferrari and Sophia Loren. But his most recent achievement making headlines has nothing to do with photography. This week, he’s being celebrated for surviving COVID-19.
Vaccaro’s family believes he was exposed to the novel coronavirus sometime in April. But despite his advanced age, he suffered a relatively mild infection and spent only a couple of days in the hospital. After two days, he shocked his family by getting up and shaving “like nothing happened.”
“To me, the greatest thing that you can do is challenge the world, and most of these challenges I win,” Vaccaro told the AP over video call. “I really feel I have luck on my back, and I could go anywhere on this Earth and survive it.”
If you want to see more of Mr. Vaccaro’s work and learn more about his incredible photographic legacy, visit his website or discover the 2016 HBO documentary “Under Fire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro,” which you can learn more about here.