~~April 19, 2014~~
Friends, it’s not what you think is it.
~~THE KISS OF LIFE ~~
Morabito won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for “The Kiss of Life“, a Jacksonville Journal photo that showed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation between two workers on a utility pole.
Randall G. Champion was unconscious and hanging upside down after contacting a high voltage line; fellow lineman J.D. Thompson revived him while strapped to the pole by the waist. Champion survived and lived until 2002, when he died of heart failure at the age of 64; Thompson is still living. The photograph was published in newspapers around the world.
~~The Kiss of Life, more than 40 years later~~
It was a fraction of a second in Jacksonville history.
A blink of an eye. No, even less than that. A snap of a camera shutter.
The cliche would be to say that moment, the split second captured on one frame of black-and-white film inside Rocco Morabito’s Rolleiflex on a morning in 1967, was forever frozen in time. To a degree, that’s true. But decades later that exact moment – Randall Champion dangling upside down from a utility pole, J.D. Thompson cradling his head and blowing air into his lungs – isn’t just preserved.
It is growing. It is being dissected, discussed, enlarged, reprinted, even sculpted.
It is the subject of a film that the Jacksonville Historical Society premiered two weeks before the 40th anniversary of the day the Jacksonville Journal photographer officially received the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography.
It also is part of a new, high-tech interactive exhibit in a Washington museum.
At the Newseum, an image that is very 20th century – shot on 120mm film, hurriedly processed in chemicals to make a print as presses were held for an afternoon paper – now can be viewed in a 21st century format. At a kiosk, guests can access an electronic database with Pulitzer Prize-winning photos, touch the screen and enlarge The Kiss of Life to the point where you can see the linemen’s cheeks, puffed full of air.
Or they can watch an interview with Morabito telling the story behind the photo.
“He’s so old school,” Crawford said. “He doesn’t wear the Pulitzer on his sleeve. He was kind of confused why we would want to talk to him. He said he was just doing his job.”
Morabito repeated that when talking about the film premier. When told that Thompson also would be there for a reception before the film, Morabito said, “Good, good, good. … He’s the one who deserves all this hullabaloo. Yes, sir. He’s the one who did it.”
The apprentice lineman saved a life. Champion lived another 35 years, surviving another electrical shock along the way, before dying of heart failure in 2002. Yet when you ask Thompson about the split second captured on Morabito’s film, he echoes what the photographer has said. He was just doing his job, following his training. No big deal.
More than forty years later, plenty of others disagree.
The photo, of course, represents a proud moment in the Times-Union’s history. In one corner of the newsroom, there is a framed copy of the photo and a certificate from Columbia University dated May 6, 1968. On anniversaries of the Pulitzer, we often re-tell that story. How Dick Bussard was the city editor who made the call to push back the deadline and redo the front page. How Bob Pate was the copy editor who gave it the slug that stuck, The Kiss of Life.
Even if the retired photographer and the lineman don’t think so, it is something. It’s a piece of history. A piece that, more than 40 years later, keeps growing.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jacksonville Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer dies
Rocco Morabito, 88, spent 42 years at the Jacksonville Journal.
Rocco Morabito (November 2, 1920 – April 5, 2009) was an American photographer who spent the majority of his career at the Jacksonville Journal.
Morabito won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for “The Kiss of Life“, a Jacksonville Journal photo that showed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation between two workers on a utility pole. Randall G. Champion was unconscious and hanging upside down after contacting a high voltage line; fellow lineman J.D. Thompson revived him while strapped to the pole by the waist. Champion survived and lived until 2002, when he died of heart failure at the age of 64; Thompson is still living. The photograph was published in newspapers around the world.
Morabito, born in Port Chester, New York, moved to Florida when he was 5, and by age 10 was working as a newsboy, selling papers for the Jacksonville Journal.
He served in World War II in the Army Air Forces as a ball-turret gunner on a B-17. After the war, he returned to the Jacksonville Journal and started his photography career shooting sporting events for the paper. He worked for the Journal for 42 years, 33 of them as a photographer, until retiring in 1982.
He died on April 5, 2009 while in hospice care.
~~How I got the shot~~
~~Uploaded on Feb 24, 2012~~
Pulitzer Prize winning Times-Union photographer Rocco Morabito talks about how shot the photograph “The Kiss of Life” during an interview recently.
We ALL are ONE!!
You tell the best history lessons.
Thank you!! I’m learning so much too. That’s why I enjoy blogging this much. Hi there!!