Terence Patrick O'Neill CBE (30 July 1938 – 16 November 2019) was a British photographer, known for documenting the fashions, styles, and celebrities of the 1960s. O'Neill's photographs capture his subjects candidly or in unconventional settings. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions. O'Neill was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2004 and the society's Centenary Medal in 2011. His work is held in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery
O'Neill was born to Irish parents in Romford, East London, and began his career working in a photographic unit for an airline at London's Heathrow Airport. During this time, he photographed a sleeping figure in a waiting area who, by happenstance, was revealed to be Home Secretary Rab Butler. O'Neill thereafter found further employment on Fleet Street with The Daily Sketch in 1959. His first professional job was to photograph Laurence Olivier.
During the 1960s, in addition to photographing contemporary celebrities such as Judy Garland, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he also photographed members of the British royal family and prominent politicians, showing a more human side to these subjects than had usually been portrayed. O'Neill's photographs of Elton John are among his best known. A selection of them appeared in the 2008 book Eltonography
Also considered among his most famous images are a series of American actress Faye Dunaway (his girlfriend at the time) at dawn on 29 March 1977, lounging next to the swimming pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel the morning after winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for Network, with several newspapers scattered around her and her Oscar statuette prominently shown on a table beside her breakfast tray. The series was photographed in both colour and black and white.
O'Neill was credited (as Terrence O'Neill) as an executive producer of the film Mommie Dearest
(1981). His only other film credit was for still photography for the opera film Aria
O'Neill was married to the actress Vera Day for 13 years; they had two children together, Keegan Alexander and Sarah Jane. He had a long-term relationship with Faye Dunaway; they were married for four years in the 1980s and had a son, Liam. In 2003, he was quoted in the U.S. tabloid magazine Star as saying Liam was adopted and not their biological son, contrary to Dunaway's public assertions. In 2001 O'Neill married Laraine Ashton, a former model agency executive.
O'Neill underwent a triple bypass and, in 2006, an operation for bowel cancer. He died on 16 November 2019 at his home in London from prostate cancer, at the age of 81.
Terry O’Neill, British Photographer, gained renown documenting the fashions, styles, and celebrities of the 1960s. O’Neill’s photographs display his knack for capturing his subjects candidly or in unconventional settings. His intimate chronicling of the Swinging Sixties, thanks to friendships with the Beatles and Rolling Stones, made him a household name. Terry O’Neill’s career as a photographer began at the age of 22 and he was soon freelancing for some of the most famous magazines.
His coveted work hangs in national galleries and private collections worldwide. Terry has produced covers for Time
, Paris Match
, The Sunday Times Magazine
, Vanity Fair
and many others over the course of his six-decade career. Since Terry first picked up a camera in 1958, he has photographed presidents, prime ministers, rock stars, Oscar winners and the British Royal Family. His work has delivered iconic movie posters, album covers and fashion plates for the world’s top designers.
Terry O’Neill has chronicled the lives of emerging rock stars and icons of the 60s including David Bowie, Elton John, The Who, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry and many others. He photographed The Beatles and The Rolling Stones when they were struggling young bands and worked closely with Frank Sinatra for over 30 years, being granted access to the legend back stage and in private.
Former husband to legendary actress Faye Dunaway, his photograph of her in Beverley Hills, the morning after she won her Best Actress Oscar for Network, has been nominated as the most iconic Hollywood shot of all time. His photographs of Brigitte Bardot, Jean Shrimpton and Audrey Hepburn capture the charisma of these superstars at the peak of their careers.
Source: Mouche Gallery