Pasternak, Dr Zhivago

ASMP Article, 2005 – AB

ASMP founding member Jerry Cooke’s name became synonymous with sports photography through his coverage of major events for Sports Illustrated for more than 50 years. His body of work, however, encompassed much more than that – from photojournalistic exposes to portraiture to stock photography, which grace the pages of most major magazines.

In 1956, Cooke – whose family fled Odessa, Ukraine, in the early 1920s – became one of the first photographers allowed to cover the post-Stalinist Soviet Union. Enroute to a return trip in 1958, Cooke brought along the novel Doctor Zhivago. Despite restrictions on foreigners’ travel outside approved areas, Cooke made a clandestine trip to visit its author, Boris Pasternak, at a writer’s colony 30 miles from Moscow. After giving Pasternak his copy of the book, Cooke spent the day photographing the writer. Soon after, those images were much in demand with the announcement that Paternak would receive a Nobel Prize.

As savvy in business as he was a master of his craft, Cooke was a key participant in early efforts by the ASMP to convince publications to adhere to minimum day rates and fair usage terms. Cooke passed away on October 27, 2005, but his efforts and his influence will long be remembered.

Tear Sheets from LIFE Magazine, October 27, 1958

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